35792-LegalFront Winter08 by wuxiangyu


									                                                                                          Wi nt er 20 0 8        •   Vo l u me 9 No . 1

Technology Improving Legal
Aid Service Delivery
  Texas faces unique challenges in the delivery of legal services       and a database of legal aid offices. As more and more people,
to the poor. The state has almost four million people living            including those of limited means, turn to the Internet for
below the federal poverty level, many of whom need or will              self-education, providing free legal resources online greatly
need free legal assistance. Additionally, the sheer size of the state   expands the ability of poor Texans to understand and exercise
creates difficulties in providing services in remote or rural areas.    their rights.
  As the need for civil legal aid increases, technology will play          At the local level, the Lubbock office of Legal Aid of
a more integral role in ensuring that low-income and poor               NorthWest Texas (LANWT) is utilizing a Victims of Crime Act
Texans are able to attain access to the justice system.                 (VOCA) grant to serve victims in remote areas. With the funding,
  In 2003, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Texas         LANWT has instituted video conferencing intake. Because
Access to Justice Commission launched TexasLawHelp.org, a               attorneys are able to save the time and expense of
Web site featuring free civil legal information, self-help forms        traveling, videoconferencing is making it possible for more
                                                                        victims, such as those who have experienced domestic violence,
                                                                        to meet with attorneys.
                                                                           While efforts such as these have met with great success, many
                                                                        legal aid offices have been operating with the most minimal and
                                                                        archaic of equipment. Recognizing the need to level the
                                                                        technological playing field, the Texas Access to Justice
                                                                        Commission established the Technology Committee to help legal
                                                                        aid offices elevate their capabilities through the use of technology.
                                                                           Over the last year, the Committee analyzed the status of
                                                                        technology in legal aid offices throughout the state and provided
                                                                        recommendations on how to bring these offices up to speed
                                                                        with hardware and software. The Committee recognized that
                                                                        without adequate equipment and computer programs, legal aid
                                                                        providers could not reach optimal effectiveness and efficiency in
                                                                        the delivery of legal services.
                                                                           The Committee collected and evaluated detailed information
                                                                        from each organization funded by the Texas Access to Justice
                                                                        Foundation about their technology program. After analyzing
  Andrea Sloan and Heath Riddles unpack their new technology
  equipment at the Texas Advocacy Project.                              the results, the Committee developed a plan to help providers
                                                                                                                        Continued on page 2.

Published by Texa s La w ye r s Ca re, t h e Pro B o n o / L e ga l Se r vi ces Su p po r t Pro j e c t o f t h e St a t e Ba r of Texas
  PAGE 2
            Inside this issue of
                                              Continued from page 1.
                                              maximize their technology tools to better serve            (Houston). Additionally, Nick Altizer, director of
TATJ COMMISSION                               their clients. The Committee realized that, because        information services for Lone Star Legal Aid
  4 Pro Bono Champion – Justice Harriet
    O’Neill, Supreme Court of Texas           of limited funds, many providers needed updated            (Houston), and Ryan Gravelle, general counsel for
  5 Report to Supreme Court of Texas
                                              equipment for their growing client base. As a result,      BSG Alliance Corp. (Austin), also serve on the
CHILDREN DETAINED BY DHS                      the Committee examined the costs and benefits of           committee and donated countless hours to the
  7 The Bernardo Kohler Center
    Partners with Texas Lawyers for           purchasing computers, printers, scanners and software      project. Jeff Edwards, of Whitehurst, Harkness,
    Immigrant Justice                         for each legal aid organization in Texas.                  Ozmun & Brees in Austin, serves as the Technology
  8 Immigration Clinic Works For Detained
    Families                                     Upon completion of the analysis, the Texas Access       Committee’s chair.
 10 Houston Attorneys Give Immigrant
    Children a Voice in a Foreign Land        to Justice Foundation’s board of directors voted to make      Hendrick, of Baker Botts, said the Committee’s
 11 Catholic Charities Program Strives
    to Increase Representation for            a one-time, bulk purchase of equipment and software        accomplishments thus far in terms of technology and
    Detained Children                         and donate them to the legal aid organizations. Legal      training support are exciting. “It has been proven
 12 Houston Reorganizes to Serve
    Unaccompanied Immigrant Children          aid organizations will be responsible for maintaining      that customer service is enhanced with the use of
 14 Give me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your
    Unaccompanied Children Yearning to        a baseline level of equipment in the future.               state-of-the-art technology,” Hendrick said. “Being
    Breathe Free
 15 Volunteer Attorneys Partner With             Paul Furrh, executive director of Lone Star Legal       able to assist in providing this kind of technology to
    ProBAR to Assist Immigrant Children       Aid, said that technology has been a priority of the       Texas legal aid organizations through the efforts of
    Detained in Rio Grande Valley
 JUSTICE AT WORK                              organization for several years. “This grant allows us      the Commission and Foundation has been a privilege
 16 Texas Tech University School of Law       to continue to fill our needs in this important area,”     and an extremely rewarding experience. I look
    Hosts Faculty Update
 16 Texas Appleseed Honors Former State       Furrh stated. “We have made a decision to use this         forward to the future as the Committee continues to
    Bar President Eduardo R. Rodriguez
    and Recognizes Law Firms for              grant to allow our lawyers greater mobility in serving     focus on improving these agencies’ technology as
    Outstanding Pro Bono Service
 18 Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas              our clients in our rural communities, allowing these       they strive to provide the best possible aid to those in
    Presents 7th Annual Women’s               advocates to have access to all of our resources while     need of legal representation.”
    Advocacy Awards
 18 Street Smart Austin: Educating Austin’s   away from their offices.”                                     Linda Brandmiller, executive director of Catholic
 19 Paralegal Division Hosts its First Pro       The new equipment will enable legal aid service         Charities of San Antonio, said that prior to the
    Bono Fair and CLE in Dallas
 19 Free Help for Victims of Identity Theft   providers to improve efficiency through networking         donation, employees were sharing computers, and
 20 Lone Star Legal Aid’s Former Board        and information sharing, automating case manage-           systems were crashing due to a lack of memory. She
    Chair Appointed to Fifth Circuit Court
    of Appeals                                ment systems, and upgrading outmoded equipment.            also said the new equipment will allow for greater
 20 Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program
    Holds Silver Anniversary Pro Bono         Equipment such as laptop computers will enable             productivity. “Combined, the new hardware and the
    Awards Celebration
 21 Human Rights Initiative of North          advocates to work on cases remotely.                       database system will kick start our immigration
    Texas Presents 2007 Angel of                 David Hall, executive director of Texas RioGrande       program into the 21st century, with the ability to
    Freedom Awards
 22 Galveston Judges Support Voluntary        Legal Aid (TRLA), said the new equipment and               document, track and remotely access client files in
    Pro Bono
                                              software licenses will make it easier to serve clients     ways we could hardly even dream of just a few short
 22 Housing Update                            and gain access to new resources that will help them       months ago.”
 23 New Regs Coming. What did you do to
    improve them?                             navigate the legal system. “Texas RioGrande Legal             In addition to the Herculean task of analyzing and
 23 Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Partners with
    ABA on Standards for Representation in    Aid is proud to work with the Commission and               making recommendations for 37 legal aid offices, the
    Civil Protection Order Cases              Foundation to serve low-income Texans,” Hall               Technology Committee has also instituted training
 24 Congress Considers Ways to Help
    Public Defenders, Civil Legal Aid         said. “With this support, TRLA attorneys will be           classes for legal aid staff on utilizing Microsoft Word to
    Attorneys Cope with Law School Debt
 25 FEMA, ABA Enter into New Agreement        able to take advantage of the latest technology to         better serve clients. The Committee held 16 three-hour
    on Disaster Services
 26 Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Texas        provide justice for all.”                                  trainings in four cities and online in 2007, and they
    Right-to-Counsel Case                        The following individuals provided pro bono             intend to offer additional training during the summer
 26 Bankruptcy Judges’ New Standing
    Order Promotes Pro Bono Work In The       services to the Texas Access to Justice Commission’s       of 2008. Attendees raved about the trainings, calling
    Southern District Of Texas
 27 ‘Picking My Brain’ About What Seniors     Technology Committee by helping develop the                them excellent, beneficial and informative.
 28 Federal Court Approves Settlement in      statewide technology plan: C. Lynn McGuire, chief             The Texas Access to Justice Commission’s
    Day Laborer Lawsuit                       information officer, Andrews Kurth LLP (Houston);          Technology Committee is committed to helping
 28 Victory Against Hospital that Refused
    Client Access to Medical Care             J. Mark Hendrick, director of information technology,      legal aid organizations utilize technology to run their
 TEXAS BAR FOUNDATION                         Baker Botts, LLP (Houston); C. Kirk Scruggs, director      offices more effectively and better serve their
 29 Texas Bar Foundation Awards Grants
 TAJF REPORT                                  of information technology, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP        clients. The Committee will continue to evaluate the
 30 EJW/TAJF Partnership Works for Justice    (Houston); Scott Preston, chief technology officer,        status of the legal services providers’ technological
 32 TAJF Luncheon with the Supreme
    Court of Texas                            Fulbright & Jaworski LLP (Houston); and Dennis             programs and identify ways in which to increase
 ANNOUNCEMENTS                                Van Metre, chief technology officer at Vinson & Elkins     their capabilities.

                                                                                  LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                                                                                                                  PAGE 3

                         Technology Resources
                      for Legal Services Providers
Websites of interest for legal services technology staff:
        LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants program (http://tig.lsc.gov/) promotes full access and
         high-quality legal representation through the use of technology. The TIG program supports projects
         that develop, test and replicate technologies that enable programs to improve client access to high
         quality assistance in the full range of legal services, and to improve program efficiency.
        TechSoup (http://www.techsoup.com/learningcenter/index.cfm) is the technology place for
         non-profits. TechSoup provides a range of technology services for nonprofits, including news and
         articles, discussion forums, and discounted and donated technology products.
        Tech Republic (http://techrepublic.com.com/) provides real world advice on how to make technology
         work in business.
        The National Technology Assistance Project (http://www.lsntap.org/) provides technology
         services (training, information, and assistance) to the poverty law community to support the effective
         use of technology initiatives that benefit clients. NTAP acts as the community’s clearinghouse on all
         technology training and helps coordinate all technology trainings of NLADA, LSC, and MIE.
         NTAP is developing virtual trainings on specific technologies for small groups of people to discuss,
         learn and share. This is a web portal to technology services and information tailored to a legal aid
         audience. This site strives to be a resource for information on virtually every aspect of technology
         and poverty law that enables nonprofit legal aid providers to use technology to serve low-income
         clients more effectively.

Websites of interest for pro bono Corporate Counsel and Corporate Law Departments:
        Corporate Counsel Practice Page
         (http://www.texaslawyershelp.org/corporatecounsel) is designed for pro bono volunteers from corporate
         legal departments in Texas.
        Corporate Pro Bono (http://www.cpbo.org/) provides information for in-house lawyers and their
         companies interested in starting or expanding a pro bono program.
        Pro Bono Institute (http://www.probonoinst.org/) at Georgetown University Law Center provides
         information, training, and consulting to large law firms and corporations interested in making a
         commitment to pro bono.

Websites of interest for legal services practitioners and advocates:
        TexasLawyersHelp (www.TexasLawyersHelp.org) is a statewide site for legal aid and pro bono advocates
         in Texas. This site is an online forum for the Texas legal aid community, providing information and
         resources for legal aid attorneys, pro bono volunteers, and other advocates interested in increasing
         access to justice throughout the state of Texas.
        The ABA Center for Pro Bono
         (http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/home.html) is a project of the ABA Standing
         Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. It offers a library of materials for pro bono program
         administrators and volunteers as well as technical assistance, news, and training resources.

Websites of interest for clients:
        TexasLawHelp (www.texaslawhelp.org) is an online resource for free and low-cost civil legal assistance
         in Texas.

                                  LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 4                                          TEXAS ACCESS TO JUSTICE COMMISSION

         Pro Bono Champion – Justice Harriet O’Neill,
         Supreme Court of Texas
                                                                              the Court created in 2001 to develop and implement initiatives
                                                                              designed to expand access to, and enhance the quality of,
                                                                              justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. Judges can also
                                                                              support pro bono work by serving on boards and committees
                                                                              that aim to meet the needs of low-income and poor Texans or
                                                                              improve the administration of justice by removing barriers to
                                                                              court access. Just demonstrating that judges value the good
                                                                              work volunteer lawyers do goes a long way to enhance the Bar’s
                                                                              willingness to provide pro bono service.

                                                                              How important is the IOLTA program to helping
                                                                              low-income persons receive legal aid?
                                                                                 The Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program is
                                                                              a critical source of funding for legal services to the poor and has
                                                                              been since it was created by the Supreme Court of Texas in
                                                                              1984. The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, also created by
                                                                              the Court in 1984, distributes IOLTA funds to legal services
                                                                              programs to increase access to justice for poor Texans. The Court
                                                                              recently amended IOLTA Rule 7 to create a “comparability
         What is your most memorable pro bono experience?                     rule” that requires attorneys to place their IOLTA funds at
           While visiting a legal aid provider in El Paso, I visited with a   financial institutions that pay rates comparable to those paid on
         woman who had for years been the victim of terrible domestic         non-IOLTA accounts. The banks have cooperated tremendously.
         abuse. Hearing her describe the hopelessness and fear in her life,   Some banks — called Prime Partners — have agreed to pay
         and how a volunteer lawyer had turned it all around, really          even higher interest rates than required to participate in the
         brought home to me the desperate situation faced by so many          program. The result is that IOLTA is expected to become a
         who do not have access to legal help. Since then I have had          much larger funding source for legal services to the poor.
         occasion to visit with many others whose lives have been
         profoundly impacted by lawyers willing to dedicate their time,       What is the Texas Supreme Court doing to support efforts
         and I am always moved by their experiences.                          to provide legal services to families and persons in need?
                                                                                 The Texas Supreme Court has contributed to the organizational
         What do you think is the biggest challenge for lawyers               infrastructure of the legal services community and the clients they
         wanting to provide pro bono services?                                serve by creating such entities as the Texas Access to Justice
            The greatest challenge is finding the time. We all struggle to    Commission, the Texas Supreme Court Task Force to Expand
         balance our personal and professional lives. Providing pro bono      Legal Services Delivery, and the Texas Access to Justice
         services may involve learning new areas of the law or working        Foundation. These entities work with the Court’s strong
         with clients after traditional work hours — both of which            support to instill a sense of pro bono commitment throughout all
         compete with lawyers’ abilities to meet other pressing needs and     practice areas and to ensure that adequate resources are
         responsibilities. But there are pro bono opportunities available     available for legal aid and pro bono programs. Additionally, the
         that fit those time constraints — lawyers just need to ask.          Court is responsible for the promulgation of rules that affect many
                                                                              poor Texans. Examples include its recent amendment of the
         What are some ways the judiciary can support and participate         IOLTA “comparability rule,” and of Rule 145 of the Texas
         in pro bono work?                                                    Rules of Civil Procedure governing Affidavits of Indigency.
           Although we cannot represent clients, members of the               Most significantly, the Supreme Court has helped raise public
         judiciary can still participate in pro bono work in a number of      awareness of how important access to our court system is and the
         ways. I serve on the Texas Access to Justice Commission, which       important public service that volunteer lawyers provide every day.

                                                       LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                                        TEXAS ACCESS TO JUSTICE COMMISSION                                                                   PAGE 5

Report to Supreme Court of Texas
  On November 30, 2007, Jim Sales, chair of the Texas Access to        law school that has most distinguished itself by actively educating
Justice Commission, filed the Commission’s semi-annual report to       and involving its students in access to justice issues, thereby
the Supreme Court of Texas as required by the Court’s order creating   promoting the core concepts of a lawyer’s ethics and moral
the Commission. The report covered the period from May through         responsibility for public service. The award is open to all
November 2007. Excerpts from the report follow.                        accredited law schools in Texas. Both law school-related awards
                                                                       will be presented annually during the fall attorney swearing-in
Resource Development Update                                            ceremony beginning in 2008.
IOLTA Comparability Rule Implementation
                                                                       Communications Committee
  The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (hereinafter, the
“Foundation”) has completed the initial phase of implementing            The Commission and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation
the IOLTA Comparability Rule. To date, approximately 535 banks         together have retained the services of a public relations firm to
have become eligible to hold IOLTA accounts in compliance              create and implement public awareness campaigns for the two
with the requirements of the new rule.                                 organizations. Elizabeth Christian & Associates, a well known
                                                                       public affairs agency, will work with the Commission and
  The Foundation has hired a Banking Manager to oversee                Foundation on efforts to increase awareness of and support for
and manage the success of the IOLTA Program. The Banking               access to justice. The Communications Committee, a joint
Manager is charged with monitoring banks to ensure their               committee of the Commission and Foundation, met in
compliance with IOLTA eligibility rules. He is also tasked with        Austin with Elizabeth Christian & Associates to explore
fostering relationships with Prime Partners and potential Prime        opportunities for communications initiatives over the next year.
Partners to cultivate this critically important revenue stream.        The Commission recently recruited several of the principal
                                                                       Communications officers from law firms. These include Mark
Awards Committee                                                       Curriden of Vinson & Elkins, Mike Cinelli of Baker Botts,
                                                                       Darrin Schlegel of Fulbright & Jaworski, Cindy Martinez of
  The Awards Committee, chaired by Allan Van Fleet, developed          Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and Kim Kimmey of Bracewell &
and proposed several new awards, which the Commission                  Giuliani. All bring to the Committee extensive talents
unanimously approved. These awards are intended to recognize           and expertise in communications and media relations. The
volunteers who have demonstrated the highest standards of              involvement of these individuals will significantly enhance the
integrity and pro bono service in the legal profession.                Commission’s efforts to inform the public, increase lawyer
                                                                       awareness and promote the access to justice initiatives of the
   The Law Student Pro Bono Award recognizes a law student             Commission’s strategic plan.
who has demonstrated his or her commitment to the delivery
of legal services to poor and low-income Texans. A law school          Voluntary Access to Justice Contribution
dean, clinic professor or legal services supervisor may nominate
a law student. Law students may also self-nominate. At the fall           The Commission and the Foundation have worked to
2008 attorney swearing-in ceremony, the Supreme Court of Texas         increase contributions via the State Bar of Texas dues statement.
will recognize one nominee from each participating law school, as      The Communications Committee developed and distributed
determined by the Commission, who best exemplifies pro bono            newsletter articles to bar association publications statewide. The
commitment. One of those nine outstanding law students will            voluntary Access to Justice Campaign, which was the lead article
be selected as the award winner. The winning student will also         in the April issue of the ATJ Update, was designed to coincide
receive a $2,000 stipend from the Commission.                          with the mailing of the SBOT dues statements on May 1. As
                                                                       a result of these efforts, the decline in contributions that
   The Law School Commitment to Service Award recognizes a             occurred during the past several years was reversed. An increase
law school that advances most prominently the delivery of legal        in donations this year resulted in more than $520,000 for legal
services through clinics, public interest programs, student            services to the poor.
involvement and other initiatives. The award recipient will be the
                                                                                                                     Continued on page 6.

                                                LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 6                                           TEXAS ACCESS TO JUSTICE COMMISSION
         Continued from page 5.

         Continuing Legal Education Committee                                   more law students. This has prompted the Commission to
         Supreme Court Recognizes Volunteer Trainers                            intensify its efforts to solicit increased outside funding for the
                                                                                additional student stipends.
            The Supreme Court of Texas presented letters of commenda-
         tion to the following individuals for their leadership in developing   Technology Committee
         and implementing the Trial Advocacy Evidence Academy:
                                                                                   Jeff Edwards, chair of the Technology Committee, has
           Dan Bishop, Austin              Lewin Plunkett, San Antonio          provided leadership to the Committee to improve the technology
           Larry Boyd, Houston             Jorge Rangel, Corpus Christi         for all recognized legal service providers by establishing a baseline
           Thomas Brown, Houston           George Shipley, Houston              level of technology for each organization. The chief information
           Dicky Grigg, Austin             Terry Tottenham, Austin              officers of Andrews Kurth, Baker Botts, Bracewell & Giuliani,
                                                                                Fulbright & Jaworski, Vinson & Elkins and Lone Star Legal
           These Texas Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers         Aid were recruited to the committee to lend their unique and
         donated their time, talent and unique skills to enhance the trial      comprehensive technological expertise and talents to assess the
         advocacy techniques of legal aid lawyers. The Commission simply        technology needs and recommend viable solutions for each
         could not have achieved this level of sophisticated training           legal service provider statewide. They have energetically and
         without them, and the Texas Supreme Court’s letters of                 enthusiastically embraced the task of improving and expanding
         commendation clearly acknowledge this contribution. These              the technological capabilities of Foundation grantees.
         exceptional lawyers volunteered for the academy because they
         understand and appreciate, as the Court does, the importance           Supreme Court Task Force to Expand Legal Services Delivery
         of the in-court work that legal aid lawyers do every day for the
         poor people of Texas.                                                     At the Commission’s request, the Court amended its order
                                                                                creating the Task Force to Expand Legal Services Delivery,
         Law School Advisory Committee                                          chaired by Karin Crump, to include four new members. The
                                                                                Administrative Director of the Office of Court Administration,
            The Commission’s Law School Advisory Committee is                   Carl Reynolds, was appointed as a permanent member of the
         comprised of the deans of the nine Texas law schools. The              Task Force. The Chair-elect of the Military Law Section and
         Committee created a law school consortium as part of its strategic     Chair of the Poverty Law Section were each appointed to serve
         plan, in which the law schools work collaboratively to increase        a two-year term on the Task Force, beginning in August. The
         the number of access to justice-related field experiences for law      Chair-elect of the Government Lawyers Section will be appointed
         students, especially in areas of the state where there are no law      to serve a two-year term on the Task Force beginning in August
         schools. The Committee created the Access to Justice Summer            2008. These new members will work with existing members to
         Internship Program as a two-year pilot project in 2006. In the         coordinate a statewide effort to expand civil legal services in
         summer of 2007, the Commission expanded the program to                 underserved areas of the state.
         include more students and a larger area of Texas. Law students
         interned in South and East Texas at the offices of Lone Star Legal     Conclusion
         Aid, the Texas Civil Rights Project and Texas RioGrande Legal
         Aid. The interns worked for a minimum of seven weeks in                   The Commission continues to focus on the challenges ahead
         offices in Angleton, Beaumont, Bryan, Tyler, San Juan, Corpus          and defining its vision to make access to justice a reality for all
         Christi, Eagle Pass, Edinburg, Laredo and Weslaco.                     Texans regardless of economic circumstances. The Commission
                                                                                is especially grateful for the work and the continuing critical
           Students, supervising attorneys, and faculty instructors             support of the Supreme Court of Texas and the State Bar of
         reported that the program was incredibly successful once again         Texas. The formidable challenge of achieving meaningful access
         in 2007. Student feedback confirms that the program made a             to the justice system for all Texans could not be accomplished
         major impact on them. As a result of the extraordinary success         without the incredibly strong and unwavering support of the
         of the pilot programs, the Committee unanimously decided               Court. It is this staunch support of the Supreme Court that
         to continue and to expand the program. The Commission                  sustains the Commission’s visionary effort to really make access
         anticipates expansion of the program statewide and to involve          to justice accessible and viable for every Texan.

                                                         LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                      SPOTLIGHT: ASSISTING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN DETAINED BY DHS                                                               PAGE 7

The Bernardo Kohler Center Partners with Texas
Lawyers for Immigrant Justice
   In July of 2006, the Bernardo Kohler Center (BKC) launched           oral argument and witness testimony, Rafael awaited a decision
its Court Legal Access project. This program, working together          from the immigration court on his asylum application.
with the broader legal community to provide legal representa-           However, while he was waiting, immigration officials used
tion, offers free legal assistance to immigrants seeking asylum or      Rafael’s address from the asylum proceedings to locate Raphael’s
other forms of relief before the immigration courts. The BKC            mother and question her about her immigration status. After
conducts initial case-screenings, and then matches clients with         this questioning, Rafael’s mother fled and abandoned Rafael
legal volunteers for representation. The primary focus has been         once again. Thus, Rafael’s very brief reunion with his birth
to provide legal representation to unaccompanied juveniles.             mother came to an end.

  One of the BKC’s first cases was on behalf of young Rafael                   Given this second abandonment, Rafael’s attorneys filed
Martinez* and his teenage relatives. Despite the controversy            and successfully prosecuted a Texas State Court action to
surrounding reform and enforcement of U.S. immigration                  terminate the mother’s parental rights. As a result, Rafael is
laws, it is difficult not to sympathize with Rafael’s plight.           now legally an orphan under the care and legal conservatorship
Shortly after Rafael was born in Honduras, a violent Honduran           of an uncle. As an orphan, federal law provides Rafael with an
gang assassinated his father, and his mother left Rafael in             opportunity for legal residency status under federal law as a
Honduras with an uncle while she fled to the United States.             Special Immigrant Juvenile. After more than eighteen months
When Rafael was five, his uncle passed away, and the gangs              of legal proceedings in both federal and state court, Rafael’s
threatened Rafael and his teenage relatives who now cared for           attorneys now hope and expect that Rafael’s residency application
him. Left with no other options, Rafael and his caretakers fled         will be granted before his seventh birthday.
to the United States. However, just across the border, Rafael was
stopped by United States Immigrations and Customs                          The pro bono service provided for Rafael is just one example
Enforcement who initiated proceedings to deport him, alone,             of the immigration matters handled by volunteer attorneys in
back to Honduras where the gangs had threatened him and                 conjunction with the Bernardo Kohler Center. Through the
where he had no family to care for him.                                 BKC attorneys have sought asylum for other orphaned or
                                                                        abused children, an undercover police officer threatened by
   Rafael made his way to Austin, where he was subsequently             Latin American gangs, and others fleeing political persecution
reunited with his mother. It was at this point that Rafael’s family     in countries such as Nepal, Colombia, Ethiopia, and El Salvador.
contacted the BKC and director David Walding reached out to             The BKC has counted on volunteer attorneys from numerous
the BKC’s network of pro bono attorneys for help. Brian Range           firms in Austin including Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati,
and Scott Morris, both litigation attorneys at Wilson Sonsini           Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Diamond McCarthy,
Goodrich & Rosati in Austin, Texas, agreed to take Rafael’s case.       Jenkens and Gilchrist, Tindall and Foster, Winstead, and from
Although the attorneys’ primary expertise was in intellectual           private attorneys as well. The BKC hopes to expand its
property litigation, they teamed with the BKC to navigate the           network of pro bono attorney volunteers to assist more detained
complex immigration bureaucracy and apply their creativity,             children. Attorneys interested in participating or obtaining
legal analysis, litigation and advocacy skills on behalf of their       more information, should call the BKC at (512) 535-3499.
young client.
                                                                          (*Names have been changed for the confidentiality and safety
   To secure his legal immigration status, Rafael’s attorneys first     of the clients.)
argued in immigration court that he was entitled to asylum
based on the gang threats directed at Rafael’s family and that
without family in Honduras, he would become a homeless                    Contributed by the Bernardo Kohler Center.
street child. After submitting extensive briefs, expert declarations,

                                                LEGALFRONT              WINTER 2008

         Immigration Clinic Works For Detained Families
         By Jerry de Jaager

         Alerted in the summer of 2006 that immigrant families were being            According to advocates, there was little or no privacy in
         detained at a former prison in Taylor, Texas, UT Law’s                   bathrooms or showers at Hutto. Many of the children said that
         Immigration Clinic spent the last year utilizing a combination of        they were threatened with being separated from their parents
         advocacy, activism, and litigation to change life for residents at the   if they did not respond immediately to the orders of their
         controversial facility.                                                  uniformed guards. There was no pediatrician onsite, and many
                                                                                  children’s medical conditions worsened while they were in
            Taylor, Texas, about thirty miles from Austin, advertises itself      custody. Advocates say the children had virtually no toys or
         as “a vibrant, growing community of . . . friendly people living         age-appropriate books and were not allowed to keep writing
         the good life.” The community newspaper announces a farmers              implements and paper in their cells. In many cases, the children’s
         market, a fajita cook-off, movies in the park, and youth com-            mental health deteriorated substantially.
         petitions in fishing, swimming, tennis, and miniature golf.                 None of the detainees were charged with crimes, and none had
            Amid Taylor’s idyllic Americana sits the T. Don Hutto Family          violent histories. Among them were families from Lithuania,
         Residential Facility, a former medium security prison that now           Romania, Iraq, Somalia, and several Latin American countries.
         serves as a detention center for immigrant families, including chil-        The Hutto facility opened in May of 2006. Frances Valdez,
         dren, awaiting decisions about asylum in the U.S. or other immi-         [University of Texas School of Law] ’05, who was then the
         gration-related issues. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA),        Clinic’s Clinical Fellow, began receiving calls for assistance in
         a for-profit company, runs the facility. CCA is the fifth-largest        August. Because the detainees have no right to a publicly funded
         operator of corrections facilities in the nation—behind only the         lawyer, the Clinic fields many such requests—it is one of very
         federal government’s prison system and those of three states.            few organizations with expertise in this area that provides free
            When Barbara Hines, director of the Law School’s                      legal services. Valdez recalled, “The first call I got was from a
         Immigration Clinic, first visited the facility in the fall of 2006,      frantic Nicaraguan woman in the Valley saying her daughter and
         she discovered that life has been anything but idyllic for the           her daughter’s baby were being held at a prison in Taylor. That
         children detained there. The facility was surrounded by fences           was when we first learned families were being detained at Hutto.”
         topped with razor wire. No direct sunlight entered the building.            As Clinic students began meeting with Hutto detainees
         During detentions that lasted as long as a year, the children            to help them with their asylum claims and other cases, Valdez
         were kept in cells at least twelve hours a day, required to wear         also worked to raise public awareness of those detainees’
         prison uniforms, given twenty minutes to eat their meals (with           circumstances. At an Austin meeting convened by the national
         no additional nutrition available beyond what was served at              organization Detention Watch Network to discuss general
         mealtimes), and provided about one hour a day of education.              detention issues, she asked those in attendance to focus on
            Hines, who has worked on immigration law issues for three             Hutto, and the group Texans United for Families was formed as
         decades, said she was stunned by the conditions she encoun-              a result. In December of 2006, Valdez and others organized a
         tered at Hutto. “I have seen a lot in many years of doing immi-          vigil at Hutto, and that event ignited media attention. Valdez
         gration law that disturbed me,” she said, “but this is the most          recalled, “Suddenly we were receiving calls from everywhere,
         disturbed I’ve been about any immigration policy in a really             not just Texas media but national media, too.”
         long time. I just couldn’t believe that there were children in              With twelve students, the Immigration Clinic could handle
         prison uniforms behind barbed wire. Imprisoning families who             only a relatively small number of cases for individual Hutto
         have fled their home countries under fear of persecution from            detainees. “We were overwhelmed,” Hines recalled. “We realized
         their own governments, and detaining them in jail-like condi-            that we were going to need more help.” Other organizations
         tions, was an indescribable trauma for many of the children.”            providing individual services, such as the American Civil Liberties
            Elise Harriger, [University of Texas School of Law] ’08, a            Union, were also finding their resources barely sufficient to
         student in the Immigration Clinic who also visited Hutto to              meet the needs of individuals there.
         work on cases there, was similarly distressed by what she saw. “It          In March of [last] year, the Immigration Clinic, along with the
         was a prison, plain and simple. Children, even babies, wore              American Civil Liberties Union and the international law firm
         prison uniforms and lived in cells with narrow slits for                 LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, filed lawsuits on behalf of
         windows. I had to keep reminding myself that I really was in the         twenty-six children detained at Hutto against Michael Chertoff,
         United States. It seemed so terribly wrong,” Harriger recalled.          secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS),

                                                          LEGALFRONT              WINTER 2008
                     SPOTLIGHT: ASSISTING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN DETAINED BY DHS                                                                  PAGE 9

and six officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs                     Hines and her students still provide legal services to individuals
Enforcement (ICE). The lawsuits charged that the children were       detained at Hutto. Even with the settlement in place and
being imprisoned under inhumane conditions, and in contra-           changes beginning to occur, Hines said that it is still very difficult
vention of a 1997 federal settlement agreement, Flores v. Meese,     to go there and see families held in such confinement. “The
that requires immigration authorities to house children in the       conditions at Hutto are not just distressing,” she said. “They are
least restrictive conditions possible and to meet certain basic      fundamentally in conflict with what Congress intended as a
standards in their care and treatment. All twelve students from      proper way to deal with detained families.”
the Immigration Clinic participated in developing the case.             Before 2001, apprehended immigrant families (a category
   In an April ruling consolidating the twenty-six cases into one    that includes asylum seekers, who are placed under arrest
trial, the District Court Judge hearing the case—1963                and considered to be in the U.S. illegally until their status is
[University of Texas] Law School graduate Sam Sparks—                determined) most typically were released with an assigned date
warned the defendants that they faced an uphill struggle to          to appear in court. After 2001, in an environment that placed
justify their actions, writing: “The Court finds it inexplicable     heightened emphasis on security, government policy called for
that Defendants have spent untold amounts of time, effort,           the detention of more apprehended immigrants, including
and taxpayer dollars to establish the Hutto family detention         those accompanied by children, to provide a greater likelihood
program, knowing all the while that Flores is still in effect.”      that they would appear for their court dates.
   In an apparent response to the suit, ICE accelerated the             The first facility to house detained immigrant families was
process of issuing bonds for asylum seekers who passed interviews    established in a former nursing home in Berks County,
regarding their credible fear of harm or repression if they          Pennsylvania in 2001. With about eighty-four beds, it is run by
returned to their native countries. Those bonds freed some of        the county. The much larger Hutto is the only other facility
the detainees and their children from the facility.                  used to detain families.
   Other changes also began taking place at Hutto after the suit        In a joint report published earlier this year, the Lutheran
was filed, changes that former Clinic student Elizabeth Wagoner,     Immigration and Refugee Service and the Women’s Commission
[University of Texas School of Law] ’07, described as nearly         for Refugee Women and Children, while declaring “the system of
farcical. “It would have been funny if it weren’t so tragic,”        family detention is overwhelmingly inappropriate for families,”
Wagoner recounted. “For example, they painted a big mural on         observed that children at the Berks County institution were
one wall, with castles and happy dragons and blue skies and puffy    generally treated more humanely than those held at Hutto.
clouds, and it said Bienvenidos a Hutto—Welcome to Hutto—as             The House committee overseeing the budget for the
though this would bring some sort of pleasure to children who        Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has regularly
were, in my view, being cruelly mistreated and many of whose         described detention of families as a last resort. In 2005 it wrote:
parents were experiencing serious distress as a result of their      “The Committee expects DHS to release families or use
penal confinement and the confinement of their children.”            alternatives to detention such as the Intensive Supervised [sic]
   As the trial was about to begin in August, a settlement was       Appearance Program whenever possible. When detention of
reached. All twenty-six of the plaintiff children had been           family units is necessary, the committee directs DHS to use
released before the trial date—six of them just days earlier. They   appropriate detention space to house them together.” In the
are still in the U.S., now living with family members who are        Intensive Supervision Appearance Program, currently under-
U.S. citizens and/or legal permanent residents while their           way in nine American cities, immigrants are generally equipped
asylum claims are being pursued.                                     with electronic bracelets and supervised by caseworkers to
   The defendants agreed to insure that living conditions at         insure compliance with the terms of their release.
Hutto—where, as of the writing of this article, approximately           In 2006 the committee reiterated its expectation that
200 people are still detained—met appropriate standards. U.S.        “if detention is necessary,” DHS should “house these
Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin, [University of Texas School of       families together in non-penal, homelike environments until
Law] ’85, was assigned to monitor those conditions, pursuant         the conclusion of their immigration proceedings.”
to a 127-item checklist included in the settlement.                     Hines and her students take pride in the services they provide
   “In my opinion, Hutto should be shut down,” Valdez said.          to individual Hutto detainees, and in their substantial part in
“But at least now the children can wear regular clothes instead      obtaining the settlement that is changing the conditions of
of prison uniforms, they can go outside, and there are no more       detention there. But many feel strongly that detention of families
clanging iron cellblock gates.”                                      is an inappropriate policy and that even if detention must be
                                                                     used, the Hutto facility is the wrong place to do it.
                                                                                                                    Continued on page 10.

                                              LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008

          Continued from page 9.
             “I learned some important lessons about the law through                    better and more effective attorneys no matter what kind of legal
          this experience,” said Wagoner, in words that are echoed by                   practice we pursue in the long run.”
          the other Clinic students. “First, I got to see how a great
          practitioner like Professor Hines can make the law work quickly                 Jerry de Jaager is a contributing writer for the University of Texas
          to address a big problem. And second, we all saw that there are               School of Law alumni magazine.
          larger matters of policy that can only be addressed through
          advocacy and activism beyond litigation. I know that for me,                    This article was first published in the Fall 2007 issue of the
          and I think for all of us, those are lessons that will make us                University of Texas School of Law alumni magazine and is reprinted
                                                                                        with permission from the University of Texas School of Law.

                          Photo credit: Christina S. Murrey
                          (left – right) Farheen Jan, clinic student; Elise Harriger, clinic student; Clinic Director and Clinical Professor Barbara
                          Hines; Matt Pizzo, clinic student; Clinic Administrator Eduardo A. Maraboto; and Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, clinic
                          student, outside the Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas.

          Houston Attorneys Give Immigrant Children a Voice in a
          Foreign Land
          By Mindy Riseden

             The courtroom is filled with young, fresh faces that have all              teer attorneys then split up and interview the children to deter-
          recently been on an arduous journey to a foreign country—the                  mine if a child may have a claim for asylum or some other form
          United States. Virtually all of these children have fled abject               of relief. Of the 40 to 60 children that come each month, only one
          poverty, but some have also sought refuge here because they                   to three present compelling grounds for relief under U.S. immi-
          have been abandoned, abused, tortured, or singled out for mis-                gration laws; other children are simply afraid to come forward.
          treatment by their own governments, gangs, or militia. These                     John Sullivan, a Fulbright partner, normally practices in the
          children, ages 10 to 17, have often traveled thousands of miles               areas of complex commercial disputes. Since 2005, however,
          in dangerous conditions with scarce food or clothing. Although                John has provided representation for many of these young
          they do not understand the process, each will appear before an                immigrants. He says it is unacceptable that so many children
          immigration judge in U.S. Immigration Court and face off—                     are forced to appear alone in immigration court before a judge,
          alone—against a seasoned lawyer working for the Department                    without understanding the language, much less the legal system.
          of Homeland Security (DHS) who seeks their deportation.                          John’s calling to work with immigrant children began with a
             These children have never had the luxury of trusting anyone                young man named Young Zheng, who arrived from China in
          and therefore give apprehensive looks around the room to the                  2003 at age 14. Authorities in the Newark, N.J. airport became
          well-dressed, but seemingly friendly people in the courtroom. It is           suspicious of Young and placed him in detention centers in
          then that a lawyer from Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. tells the chil-           Philadelphia and later in Chicago. Young, who was born in
          dren that they are in the firm’s mock courtroom and these volun-              violation of China’s one child law and qualified as a tax burden
          teer lawyers are here to help them. After the 45-minute “Know                 to his family per the Chinese government, arrived in the U.S.
          Your Rights” presentation regarding immigration law, the volun-               with false documents via “Snakeheads,” human smugglers hired

                                                             LEGALFRONT                 WINTER 2008
                     SPOTLIGHT: ASSISTING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN DETAINED BY DHS                                                                PAGE 11

by his father. Several months after his arrival in the US, Young     that Young would suffer irreparable injury if the injunction
learned that he was expected to find menial work in Chinatown        were not granted. Young then prevailed in the family court,
in New York City to pay the $65,000 smuggling debt to which          which found that his father had abandoned and neglected him
his father had agreed.                                               by putting him in the hands of Snakeheads at the age of 14 and
   After the DHS took Young into custody in 2003, Young              by disowning all responsibility for him. In the fall of 2006,
spent the following two years living in a detention center and       Young obtained his Permanent Resident Card, which allows
then with his uncle in Ohio. DHS allowed him to live with his        him to apply for U.S. citizenship in five years.
uncle and attend school while his case was pending, as long as          Young now lives in a loving home and attends accelerated
he continued to check in with the officials. During this time,       classes at a local high school, maintaining an all-A average. A
Young may have been out of the detention center, but he still        fund has been established for Young’s education so he can fulfill
felt imprisoned at times with the Snakeheads’ continuous deadly      his dream of attending college and one day becoming a biologist.
threats in demanding their smuggling debt.                           John, Hannah, and other Fulbright & Jaworski attorneys have
   Although Young continued to check in as required, immigra-        dedicated considerable time and energy to this project, which
tion officers handcuffed him in 2005 without warning and             has not gone unrecognized. In 2006, the American Immigration
informed him that he was being immediately deported to               Lawyers Association awarded Fulbright & Jaworski the National
China. Immigration officers transported Young to Chicago’s           Pro Bono Award. Young’s case also received repeated coverage in
O’Hare Airport, where he was to board a plane bound for              the New York Times and the American Lawyer.
China. As he walked down the concourse, Young envisioned                With all that John and his team have given to this project,
the ruthless Snakeheads waiting for him and began to panic,          John consistently praises all of the other people who have
striking his head repeatedly against the wall of the jet way. This   helped them, especially noting invaluable guidance from
incident derailed the deportation effort for the time being, and     University of Houston experts such as Anne Chandler, an
DHS sent Young to a high security detention facility in Houston,     attorney and professor with the immigration clinic, and
pending new deportation papers and travel documents.                 Professor Joseph Vail, a former immigration judge. John is also
   Once in Houston, John agreed to take on Young’s case, naively     grateful to Cristina Didone at CD Language Solutions, which
unperturbed by Young’s insurmountable legal position. John,          donated time and interpreters to this project.
associate Hannah Sibiski and an ever-growing team of                    John says there is a great need for more help to make the
Fulbright attorneys and summer associates worked on Young’s          program self-sustaining, and he encourages other attorneys to
case in an impassioned effort to prevent his delivery to the         get involved. He says a lack of immigration law experience or
Snakeheads in China and, ostensibly, to save his life.               the inability to speak other languages does not prevent an
   After months and countless hours of work and legal                attorney from volunteering. John may be contacted at
proceedings in five different courts across the country, John and    jsullivan@fulbright.com.
his team finally got the ruling they needed: a 23-page
Injunction Order from U.S. District Judge David Hittner of              Mindy Riseden practices with Crain, Caton & James, P.C. She
the Southern District of Texas (Zheng v. Pogash, 416 F.Supp.2d       is a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
550 (S.D.Tex. 2006)). Judge Hittner found that DHS’s
decision to deny Young the right to go to family court for relief      This article is reprinted with permission from The Houston Lawyer.
was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion and, further,

Catholic Charities Program Strives to Increase
Representation for Detained Children
  Under current immigration laws, children who are detained          children, who cannot afford representation, are expected to appear
by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and placed in removal         before an immigration judge without legal representation and
proceedings have a right to an attorney at no government             prove their case.
expense. Many of these children are fleeing notorious Central          The Saint Frances Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal
American street gangs, others have suffered abuse, abandonment,      Assistance, an immigration program of Catholic Charities of
or neglect, are orphans, or victims of human traffickers. These      the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, strives to assist these
                                                                                                                   Continued on page 12.

                                              LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008

          Continued from page 11.
          children who otherwise would be forced to negotiate the complex         Jaworski has provided Know Your Rights presentations and the
          immigration system on their own.                                        Immigration Clinic at the University of Houston Law Center is
             The Cabrini Center Unaccompanied Immigrant Children                  currently planning on providing the same type of services to
          program provides Know Your Rights presentations at each of the          children who have been reunified with their family in the
          shelters and conducts legal intake and assessment of each child         Greater Houston area.
          in custody. In 2007, the Cabrini Center interviewed over 900              Attorneys from firms including Akin Gump Strauss Hauer
          children in custody at the Greater Houston area shelters.               Feld, Baker Hostetler, Baker Botts, Fulbright & Jaworski,
             Once immigration legal relief is identified, Maria Mitchell, staff   Tindall & Foster, Bracewell & Giuliani, Greenberg Traurig,
          attorney for the Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Program               Godwin Pappas Ronquillo, Greer, Herz & Adams, and Quan,
          and pro bono coordinator, recruits and mentors volunteer                Burdette & Perez along with several solo practitioners have also
          attorneys from Houston law firms through a partnership with             provided pro bono legal representation for these children.
          Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ Program (HVLP), and through a                  Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities with the
          pool of over 200 volunteer attorneys who have generously                Cabrini Center may contact Maria Mitchell, pro bono
          provided pro bono legal representation to clients in other              coordinator at (713) 874-6570 or via e-mail at
          programs at the Cabrini Center.                                         mamitchell@catholiccharities.org
             Attorneys are able to volunteer in a variety of ways. In 2007,
          pro bono attorneys from the law firm of King & Spalding
          obtained several Special Immigrant Juvenile Status visas for               Contributed by The Saint Frances Cabrini Center For
          minors referred through the Cabrini Center Unaccompanied                Immigrant Legal Assistance, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese
          Immigrant Children Program. The law firm of Fulbright &                 of Galveston-Houston.

          Houston Reorganizes to Serve Unaccompanied
          Immigrant Children
          By Anne Chandler
             It had come down to this for Maria, a fifteen year old               counsel to represent any “aliens,” regardless of whether the
          Honduran girl abandoned by her parents in the United States             “alien” is a wealthy immigrant business or a sixteen year-old
          after the family had fled gang violence and desperate poverty in        timid girl like Maria seeking safe harbor.
          her home country. Could she, through an interpreter, and with              And while pro bono agencies in Texas were reasonably well
          only an elementary school education, manage to do what she              set up to handle landlord-tenant disputes, neighborhood
          had been coached to do in a few brief minutes by a caseworker           issues, debt problems and other more traditional matters affecting
          for a national charity: explain to a Houston immigration judge          the disempowered, they had relegated immigration claims,
          apparently unfamiliar with the exact procedure of a little-known        particularly those involving abandoned immigrant children, to
          corner of the labyrinth known as section 101(a)(J)(27) of the           the small handful of busy and already poorly compensated attor-
          Immigration and Nationality Act just how it was she was entitled        neys specializing in this complex field. Maria was the predictable
          to relief? The story had a predictable unhappy ending. She              result of that gap. That imperfection might have been perceived as
          could not. The judge, burdened with a morning docket of 30 cases,       tolerable in the not-so distant past when abandoned immigrant
          swiftly ordered her deported just as many other immigration             juveniles were a relative rarity in Texas. In recent years, however, as
          judges had done facing similar claims from what we now know             the economic and social situation in Mexico and Central America
          as “Special Immigrant Juveniles.”                                       continued to deteriorate and as immigration to the United States
             The problem with Maria’s attempt to secure the rule of law           from Africa, China and India continued to expand, it had become
          was not merely the merits of her case. To be sure, that was a           a glaring failure in our system of justice. Instead of 100 children,
          contestable matter nestled in contestable immigration policies.         for example, being imprisoned in the greater Houston area on any
          The other problem was that she did not have an attorney to              given day awaiting deportation proceedings, there were now 300.
          represent her in court. And this was no accident. Immigration           A larger number were likely metaphorically imprisoned in the
          law specifies that the government shall not pay for free legal          poverty and vulnerability that almost inevitably occurs when

                                                           LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                       SPOTLIGHT: ASSISTING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN DETAINED BY DHS                                                                      PAGE 13

young children, without education, and often with limited                 appearing in court. Moreover, it gives our attorneys who have
English or Spanish skills, find themselves abandoned in the               been involved a feeling of professional satisfaction from helping
complexities of modern America.                                           children who are not only at risk but have so very little,” says
   A collaboration of non-profit organizations, principally the           Sullivan. Many get the sort of intensive legal training and client
Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance of Catholic                 experience that is, frankly, difficult to acquire swiftly in the large
Charities Diocese of Houston-Galveston, Houston’s largest pro             firm environment where corporate clients are understandably
bono clearinghouse, Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ Program                    unwilling to gamble multi-million dollar cases on litigation by
(HVLP), and the state’s very finest law firms has now come, if not        novices. And some get the satisfaction sometimes difficult to
to the rescue, to at least regularize court representation of             acquire in commercial practice of using skills and training gained
abandoned children with possible legal bases for staying in the           through years of hard work to genuinely and constructively
United States. Some firms, such as Fulbright & Jaworski LLP,              engage in the life of another human being.”
have hosted “Know Your Rights” presentations in their wood                   HVLP Executive Director, David Mandell, also sees the
paneled mock trial courtrooms at their Houston downtown firm.             program as beneficial for immigrants and attorneys alike. “We
Attorneys from their firm and the community volunteered                   were leery, at first,” he said, “of expanding HVLP’s docket over
several hours of their time to explain to the children what their         these sorts of cases given the scarcity of attorneys who could
rights are, what they should expect when they appear before an            mentor them successfully. We didn’t think we could just hand
immigration judge, and what laws exist that may provide them a            over a file to a tax attorney and say, ‘here, figure it out.’ With
legal avenue to halt their deportation. Other firms, such as Tindall      some hard work and some bridge-building, however, we’ve now
& Foster, LLP, have volunteered to act as attorney of the day,            put together what I would call a solid patchwork of educational
representing dozens of immigrant children that would otherwise            materials and in-person support that lets attorneys go swiftly up
have to speak on their own behalf before the immigration judges.          the learning curve in taking on one of these cases. That’s a win
HVLP has made representation of immigrant juveniles part of               for everyone,” he says.
their regular array of cases offered to volunteers. All of these attor-      Joe Vail, former immigration judge and Director of the
neys, many of whom may be brilliant in their own fields, but              University of Houston’s Law Center Immigration Clinic, says he
often lack knowledge of immigration law, are mentored by staff            is delighted with the communities response to the increased need
attorneys such as Wafa Abdin and Maria Mitchell of Catholic               for representation of immigrant juveniles. “This is the modern
Charities’ Cabrini Center. Wafa Abdin, Catholic Charities Legal           Gideon’s Trumpet,” he says in an allusion to Clarence Earl
director, expresses her appreciation of the partnership with              Gideon, whose case created the constitutional right to counsel in
HVLP because it has increased the pool of attorneys that are              state prosecutions where the defendant faced a year or more in
involved in the representation of unaccompanied minors.                   prison. “We are proud to have our students, faculty and attorneys
Without the involvement of pro bono attorneys, many of the                provide a hand to the many in the legal community who want to
unaccompanied minors that qualify for relief would not have               get involved but just need some support,” Vail says. “I understand
legal representation in immigration court. For many of these              that it can be scary to get involved in what amounts to life-and-
minors, it could mean the difference between life and death.              death matters for people whose culture and background can be
   The result of this collaboration has neither been any sort of          quite different from our own. All the more so when the area of law
massive reversal in the flow of children through immigration              involved is complex and unfamiliar. What we can perhaps do
proceedings or any sea change in the outcome of most immigra-             most to secure the rule of law, however, is to try to do less ourselves
tion cases. There are, however, a number of victories that may            but to instead unleash the bravery of many of our lawyers in all
seem small when viewed from the large perspective of immigra-             walks of practice by using our knowledge and skills to make their
tion law and policy, but that are truly cataclysmic in the lives of       fears manageable.”
these children and occasionally transformative in the lives of the           According to Mandell, the best way for interested lawyers to
attorneys representing them. “Representing these immigrant                get involved is to contact Jamie Honeycutt, Pro-Bono
children in proceedings has benefited many of our associate               Coordinator for HVLP, at Jamie.Honeycutt@hvlp.org.
attorneys by giving them the opportunity to develop their skills
at an earlier stage in their careers,” says John Sullivan, an attorney     Anne Chandler is a Supervising Attorney at the University of
at Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP. “Through this pro bono project,             Houston Law Center’s Immigration Clinic.
many of our associates are getting hands-on experience interacting
with clients, opposing counsel, developing legal strategies and

                                                  LEGALFRONT              WINTER 2008

          Give me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Unaccompanied
          Children Yearning to Breathe Free
          By Linda A. Brandmiller

             Marlon was only eleven years old when he was apprehended              Many children fear returning to their home country as a
          by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, still carrying the leather         result of persecution for their religion, political affiliation, race,
          gloves and rope he had used to tie himself between the box cars on    ethnicity or because they fall into a particular social group.
          his long trip from Honduras to the U.S. Rigoberto arrived at the      Depending on the country conditions and possible proof of
          government shelter charged with caring for him, with his pockets      these claims, the child may qualify for asylum.
          bursting with small change. Case workers soon discovered that            In some cases, the child has been the victim of a serious crime
          he had been singing his way through El Salvador and Mexico to         such as rape or assault while in the United States. If a law
          pay for his travels to the United States.                             enforcement agency agrees to certify this claim, the child may
             While these stories are poignant examples of the relentless        qualify for a U-visa.
          immigrant spirit exhibited by these young unaccompanied                  If the child has been abandoned, neglected or was the victim
          minors, they are not unique. Every year, thousands of children        of abuse, if there is no appropriate family member in their
          head to the U.S. to rejoin parents and siblings already here, to      home country or in the U.S. who can care for him, then the
          escape abusive family relationships in their home country, to         child may qualify as a Special Immigrant Juvenile and can be
          find work to support themselves and their families or to go to        put into the federal foster care system.
          school and make better lives for themselves.                             Finally, in some instances, the child is identified as a victim
             Most often, detained unaccompanied minors come from                of human trafficking. In these instances, they have been coerced,
          El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala because children from            controlled and victimized in a commercial sense (generally as
          Mexico are generally turned back at the border to be taken care       forced labor or in the sex industry) and the child may qualify
          of by their national social service agency. Once apprehended,         for a T-visa.
          children are detained at federal facilities funded through               A key component of this program is the recruitment and
          the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Division of                 training of pro bono attorneys to accept these cases and assist
          Unaccompanied Children Services (DUCS).                               children in pursuing a legal remedy. CCAOSA is working with
             Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio (CCAOSA) is          large law firms, solo practitioners, local bar associations and St.
          one of 10 pilot projects in the country, funded through the Vera      Mary’s University School of Law in order to address the unmet
          Institute of Justice to screen, educate, and orient children about    legal needs of these children.
          their legal rights and the immigration court system, and develop,        Sadly, these children are voiceless victims. Were it not for the
          implement, and increase capacity of pro bono legal representation     ongoing work of agencies such as Catholic Charities and the
          before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).            tireless dedication of a core of dedicated pro bono attorneys who
          These sites were selected based on demonstrated need for legal        donate their time and skills to assist these young children, they
          representation of unaccompanied children in the proposed              would be destined to fall through the cracks of the political
          service area, experience providing services to immigrants and         system- certain to be re-victimized.
          children, access to organizational and community resources,              Attorneys are mentored throughout this process so knowledge
          and creativity in approach to developing program models.              of immigration law while helpful, is not a requirement. To learn
          CCAOSA works with three local ORR shelters, with a                    more about unaccompanied minors or for information on how
          current capacity to house nearly 70 children. CCAOSA –                to volunteer with the program, please contact Melissa Moreno,
          Unaccompanied Minors Program provides a legal orientation             Unaccompanied Minors Pro Bono Program Coordinator at
          presentation about the legal rights of these children. In addition,   (210) 433-3256 or at mmoreno@ccaosa.org.
          all children are individually interviewed in order to assess
          whether they might qualify for a legal remedy and if it is
          determined that they may have a basis to remain in the U.S.,            Linda A. Brandmiller is the Director of Immigration Services –
          they are matched with a pro bono attorney who is mentored             Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio.
          by CCAOSA and who will file the necessary application on
          their behalf.

                                                         LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                      SPOTLIGHT: ASSISTING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN DETAINED BY DHS                                                            PAGE 15

Volunteer Attorneys Partner With ProBAR to Assist
Immigrant Children Detained in Rio Grande Valley
   A 17 year old boy from Guatemala, Eswin is a typical               Documents for the child’s claim. Molina was able to represent
ProBAR client. At the age of 11, Eswin’s father was murdered          the child in court, with the help of research and supporting
and at age 14, his mother was struck and killed by an automobile.     documents compiled by Dattilo. Below is an excerpt of a
Eswin’s sister worked as a domestic worker in the nearby capital      comment written by the 17 year-old child who recently won
city and would visit him occasionally. After the traumatic            asylum with the help of Molina and Dattilo.
deaths of both his parents, Eswin was left to care for his disabled
aunt who had suffered a stroke and could not walk or talk.                  … [I] want to tell you thank you very much for
Shortly after his aunt’s death, Eswin, at the tender age of 14,             helping me on my case. Because of you and the
decided to try to make it on his own. He moved north, first                 other attorneys I won asylum, thank God. I would
landing in Mexico where he worked for a towing company for                  really like it if you kept on helping the other kids
almost two years, sleeping on the office floor at night. He                 and if you can help them like you helped me…
eventually came to the United States hoping to find safety and              Goodbye, thank you for everything, take care, and
his dream of once again having a family.                                    keep doing this because God will reward you for all
   With the assistance of the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum                   the good things that you do.
Representation Project (ProBAR), Eswin won the right to
remain in the United States. He will live with a foster family              Translated by Lauren Fisher, Children’s Paralegal
through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
   ProBAR is a project of the American Bar Association, the              To help attorneys who are interested in volunteering, the
State Bar of Texas, and the American Immigration Lawyers              Texas Young Lawyers Association and ProBAR created a training
Association. ProBAR is a national effort to provide pro bono          DVD, which includes testimonials from volunteer attorneys as
legal services to immigrants and asylum seekers detained in the       well as unaccompanied children who have benefited from the
Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.                                     assistance of pro bono attorneys. Additionally, this
   Currently, over 400 children ranging in age from newborns          TYLA/ProBAR Unaccompanied Children’s Project training
to 17 years of age are detained without family in the Rio             video provides an overview of the immigration system, legal
Grande Valley. Mostly from Central America, these children            relief, and the process for volunteering. Attorneys viewing this
are often fleeing severe domestic violence, sexual abuse, gang        DVD can receive up to 3.5 hours of CLE credit. For more
brutality, and abandonment leading to dangerous lives on the          information about ProBAR, contact Diane Eason at the
streets. These children come to the United States with hopes for      ProBAR Children’s Office at 956-365-3775 or via e-mail at
a safe future. Upon entering the United States, however, these        probar@sbcglobal.net.
unaccompanied minors find themselves caught in a complicated
legal process facing imminent removal to their home countries.          Contributed by ProBAR.
Without ProBAR and its many volunteers, the children would
face this daunting legal process alone.
   Attorneys can volunteer with ProBAR in a variety of capacities
depending on time and geographic constraints. For attorneys
that are not available to provide full representation for a child
seeking asylum, numerous other volunteer opportunities exist.
Attorneys can assist with drafting briefs, researching country
conditions and compiling supporting documentation – all of
which can help a child obtain asylum. For example, Amberly
Dattilo, a volunteer attorney in Houston unable to travel to the
Rio Grande Valley, partnered with ProBAR’s Children’s
Attorney Gladis Molina to represent a 17 year old child in
asylum proceedings. While in Houston, Dattilo researched                    ProBAR Attorney Gladis Molina pictured with Eswin
country conditions and prepared an Index of Supporting

                                               LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 16                                                           JUSTICE AT WORK

          Texas Tech University School of Law Hosts
          Faculty Update
             Faculty from the Texas Tech University School of Law held its       following faculty members from Texas Tech’s law school
          Second Annual Law School Faculty Update for Legal Services             participated in this program: Professors Larry Spain, Wendy
          Attorneys, Public Interest Practitioners and Pro Bono Attorneys        Ross, Patrick Metze, Angela Laughlin, John Krahmer, Jorge
          CLE program on September 27-28 in Lubbock. Texas Tech                  Ramirez and Jarod Gonzalez.
          University Law School is the first law school in Texas to offer           In addition, Maricarmen Garza, an attorney with Texas
          such a program, which evolved following recommendations                RioGrande Legal Aid, presented on the overlap between family
          from the Texas Access to Justice Law School Advisory                   law and immigration law in the context of providing effective
          Committee. Texas Tech Law created the Faculty Update as                advocacy for domestic violence clients.
          another opportunity for law school faculty to contribute their            The Faculty Update was attended by more than 35 attorneys,
          time and expertise in support of the important work of legal           with legal services staff attorneys from Advocacy, Inc., Legal Aid
          services attorneys in the delivery of legal services to poor           of NorthWest Texas, Legal Aid Society of Lubbock, Inc. and Texas
          Texans. By leveraging their resources, Texas Tech Law was              RioGrande Legal Aid all in attendance. Additionally, private
          able to offer a quality CLE program, without cost to legal             practice attorneys who agreed to take two pro bono cases from
          services attorneys, on an impressive array of topics relevant to       Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas attended this CLE for free.
          their practice.                                                        Following the CLE, participants expressed positive feedback
             Professor Larry Spain, who serves as Director of Clinical           regarding the program. One participant noted, “Great array of
          Programs at Texas Tech Law School, organized the program.              topics…I learned something from each presenter. Wonderful
          Professor Spain provided an update on recent family law cases          job! Thank you for putting on this CLE, a valuable program.”
          of interest and facilitated an interactive discussion emphasizing         The Faculty Update was a great success and Texas Tech Law
          the application of the rules of professional conduct when              will continue to offer this program on an annual basis. In an
          working with difficult clients. The seminar showcased Texas            effort to make the CLE program more widely available to legal
          Tech Law School’s finest faculty on topics such as negotiation         services attorneys statewide, Texas Tech Law School intends to
          skills, trial preparation and file organization, evidentiary issues,   explore offering future programs by video conference or
          the deceptive trade practices act, ethics of client interview and      through distribution on CD.
          witness preparation, and employment discrimination. The

          Texas Appleseed Honors Former State Bar President
          Eduardo R. Rodriguez and Recognizes Law Firms for
          Outstanding Pro Bono Service
             Texas Appleseed recently presented Eduardo R. Rodriguez,            Texas Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Lightsey.
          former President of the State Bar of Texas (2005-06) and Senior           In addition to honoring Rodriguez, Texas Appleseed also
          Partner in the Brownsville law firm of Rodriguez, Colvin,              recognized several law firms for their outstanding service.
          Chaney & Saenz, L.L.P., with the 2007 J. Chrys Dougherty                  Vinson & Elkins LLP received the 2007 Pro Bono Service
          Good Apple Award at its Good Apple Dinner for championing              Award for outstanding service to the children of Texas through the
          pro bono legal service and diversity in the legal profession.          firm’s work on Texas Appleseed’s school-to-prison pipeline project.
             “We are pleased to honor an outstanding attorney who has               Texas Appleseed also honored Greenberg Traurig LLP for
          served as a role model to fledgling lawyers and as a mentor to         their exceptional pro bono leadership, including work on
          young people on every rung of the educational ladder,” said            the school-to-prison pipeline project and disaster relief, and

                                                          LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                                                      JUSTICE AT WORK                                                                      PAGE 17

recognized Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP for their work on foster care        priority response to the legal challenges facing hurricane
and Mayer Brown LLP for their help on hurricane disaster relief.    evacuees,” said Lightsey.
   “We owe our pro bono partners our deepest gratitude for             Stephen M. Ryan, an attorney with Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP
providing the person power, the commitment, and the hard            in Houston, prepared a report for Texas Appleseed on the
work to propel these projects forward. Texas Appleseed’s ability    status of foster care reform in Texas. This report was referenced
to make a difference in the lives of the low income and the         in recent testimony before the Texas Supreme Court in support
disenfranchised in Texas is directly due to the hands-on involve-   of creating a Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and
ment of our pro bono partners,” said Lightsey.                      Families. This report identifies the major challenges currently
   Rodriguez has an impressive record of success in the legal       confronting the state’s foster care system.
field that includes a commitment to pro bono and civic involve-
ment. After earning an undergraduate degree from George
Washington University in 1965 and his Juris Doctorate from            Contributed by Texas Appleseed.
The University of Texas School of Law in 1968, Rodriguez
practiced criminal, family, and admiralty law with Hardy &
Sharp in Brownsville.
   His active involvement in pro bono legal work for the indi-
gent—including serving on the Board of the Cameron County
Legal Aid Society—attracted the attention of Governor Dolph
Briscoe, who appointed him to the first Texas Advisory Council
of the Legal Services Corporation.
   In 1998, Texas Monthly recognized Eduardo Rodriguez as
Best Defense Lawyer in South Texas. In 2000, he received the
Honorary Order of the Coif from The University of Texas
School of Law, where he has been active in efforts to recruit
minority law students and has served as President of both the
Alumni Association and the Alumni Executive Committee. He
serves as a member of the Development Board of The                   (Left to Right) Jim George, Texas Appleseed Board Chair; Eduardo R.
University of Texas at Brownsville.                                  Rodriguez, 2007 J. Chrys Dougherty Good Apple Award recipient; Tom
   The law firms honored at the Good Apple Dinner, held at           Godbold, attorney with Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P and former Chair
the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, have also made outstanding         of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors (2005-2006)
pro bono contributions to Texas Appleseed’s social justice work
in 2007.
   Vinson & Elkins LLP attorneys Scott Fletcher and Elizabeth
Pannill coordinated the efforts of more than 50 pro bono
attorneys and paralegals conducting field interviews in Texas
school districts as part of Texas Appleseed’s School-to-Prison
Pipeline project. This year-long effort examined the intersection
between school discipline policies, dropout rates, and juvenile
incarceration. More than 30 attorneys and paralegals at Vinson
& Elkins volunteered for this project.
   Greenberg Traurig LLP sponsored an Equal Justice Works
Katrina Legal Fellowship position at Texas Appleseed to address
the complex legal issues surrounding relief for victims of
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Greenberg Traurig attorneys also        (Left to Right) Scott Fletcher, Vinson & Elkins; Jim George, Texas
participated in the school-to-prison pipeline project.               Appleseed Board Chair; Elizabeth Pannill, Vinson & Elkins; Will
                                                                     Alexander, Vinson & Elkins
   Mayer Brown LLP continued funding a fellowship position
at Texas Appleseed for a second year, “ensuring a sustained,

                                              LEGALFRONT            WINTER 2008
PAGE 18                                                        JUSTICE AT WORK

          Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas Presents 7th Annual
          Women’s Advocacy Awards
                                                                                Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas recently presented its annual
                                                                             Women’s Advocacy Awards, honoring distinguished members
                                                                             of the community who, through their sustained service and
                                                                             leadership, have made a positive and lasting impact on the lives
                                                                             of women living in poverty. Three awards are given annually. This
                                                                             year the “Business and Civil Leadership” award was presented to
                                                                             Ms. Ebby Halliday. Ms. Lisa Blue received the “Louise Raggio
                                                                             Women’s Legal Advocate” award and Ms. Jana Barker, Executive
                                                                             Director of Brighter Tomorrows, received the “Non-Profit
                                                                             Executive” award. Honorees were presented with the awards at
                                                                             a reception generously hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Scott Ginsburg.
                                                                             Proceeds from the 7th annual event will support full-time staff
                                                                             attorneys dedicated to serving low income women who otherwise
                                                                             would go without legal advocacy. Since their inception in 2001,
                                                                             the Women’s Advocacy Awards have raised more than $250,000
                                                                             to fund free civil legal aid for low income women seeking safety,
           2007 Women’s Advocacy Award Recipients (left to right) –
                                                                             security and lives free of domestic violence and abuse.
           Jana Barker, Ebby Halliday, and Lisa Blue

                                                                               Contributed by Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas.

          Street Smart Austin: Educating Austin’s Homeless
             Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) recently launched the          to the homeless in Austin. Our goal is to make sure they know
          new Street Smart Austin initiative aimed at educating Austin’s     their rights and are informed of the laws that affect them.”
          homeless on their legal rights. The initiative begins with the        The Travis County Health and Human Services Department
          release of a “Know Your Rights” guide regarding laws that affect   estimates that more than 3600 people in the area are homeless
          the local homeless community.                                      everyday. More than 30% of them are children and only 60%
             Coordinated by Legal Aid for the Homeless and Texas             receive access to important services.
          C-BAR, both projects of TRLA, the initiative focuses on legal         “TRLA remains a legal resource for the homeless in Texas,”
          rights related to issues such as loitering, panhandling, and       added Austin Branch Manager D’Ann Johnson. “Through
          sleeping and bathing in public areas. The new guide provides       Street Smart Austin, we will continue to educate those who do
          information on 25 different legal issues affecting the homeless,   not have a roof over their head and the agencies that serve them
          penalties for breaking the law, and important community            on the rights and responsibilities of citizens in our legal system.”
          phone numbers. TRLA is working with partner organizations             Individuals and organizations interested in the initiative and
          and the law firm of Hunton & Williams LLP to launch similar        distributing the “Know Your Rights” guide should contact
          outreach in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. The initiative is    D’Ann Johnson at djohnson@trla.org.
          being funded by NuStar Energy.
             As Richard Troxell, director of Legal Aid for the Homeless,       Contributed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
          explained, “We are excited to begin a new way of reaching out

                                                       LEGALFRONT            WINTER 2008
                                                        JUSTICE AT WORK                                                                       PAGE 19

Paralegal Division Hosts its First Pro Bono Fair and CLE
in Dallas
   Increasing paralegal support in pro bono matters will lead to      help ensure that poor Texans receive the legal assistance that is
increased resources for poor Texans. Recognizing that paralegals      desperately needed.
are a key component in addressing the needs of low-income                Several non-profit legal services agencies were on hand to
Texans, the Paralegal Division of the State Bar held its first        answer questions about existing pro bono opportunities in the
Pro Bono Fair and CLE on November 12 in Dallas.                       Dallas area, including Advocacy, Inc., Catholic Charities of
   Stephanie Hawkes, Paralegal Division Director for Dallas           Dallas, Dallas CASA, Dallas Legal Hospice, Dallas Volunteer
and Ellis Counties and coordinator of this CLE luncheon and           Attorney Program, Genesis Women’s Shelter, Human Rights
fair, stated, “The goal of the event was to bring the paralegals to   Initiative of North Texas and Legal Action Works.
the agencies, so that they could learn about the services offered        Paralegal Division President Patricia Giuliano emphasized
to the poor and how they, as paralegals, could help, within or        that educating paralegals about the need for pro bono legal
outside of their own office.”                                         assistance and encouraging paralegals to share their talent and
   Keynote speaker, Hon. Elizabeth Lang-Miers from the Fifth          expertise by participating in pro bono legal activities is a priority
District Court of Appeals in Dallas, spoke to attendees about         for the division. She further explained that paralegals are uniquely
the needs of poor Texans and the ways that paralegals can assist      qualified to assist attorneys on pro bono cases because of their
attorneys on pro bono matters. In her presentation to the             firsthand knowledge of the legal process. She urged all attendees
approximately fifty participants at the event, Hon. Lang-Miers        to contribute a few hours each month so that paralegals can
stressed that paralegals possess skills that are invaluable to        truly make a difference in the lives of poor Texans.
attorneys. By using their specialized knowledge, paralegals can

Free Help for Victims of Identity Theft
   Texas Legal Services Center has received one of four discre-       United States has been disproportionately affected: Texas,
tionary grants from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of         Colorado, and New Mexico, are among the top ten states in per
Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, to combat              capita identity theft victims according to data compiled by the
identity theft and financial fraud. The grant will fund the           Federal Trade Commission in 2006. “VICARS provides a range
Victims Initiative for Counseling, Advocacy, and Restoration of       of free services for victims of identity theft and financial fraud
the Southwest – known to its clients as VICARS. “For too long         including assistance with reporting to proper authorities,
identity theft victims have been left on their own to resolve the     reacquiring identity, and restoring credit,” stated Bruce Bower,
destruction left by criminals. The recipients of these grants are     Deputy Director of Texas Legal Services Center. The program
blazing new trails in improving crime victims’ access to rights,      serves residents of Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma
and we are pleased to support their efforts,” stated John W.          and is easily accessed through a toll free telephone number.
Gillis, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime. The four            For more information about VICARS, call 1-888-343-4414.
grant recipients are Texas Legal Services Center, the Identity
Theft Resource Center, the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource
Center, and Atlanta Victim Assistance’s “Stop Atlanta Fraud             Contributed by Texas Legal Services Center.
Empower” program.
   Randall Chapman, Executive Director of Texas Legal Services          VICARS is a program of the Texas Legal Services Center supported
Center, noted, “Identity theft is escalating in the number of         by Grant No. 2007-VF-GX-K032 awarded by the Office for
crimes committed, the dollars lost to victims and businesses,         Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of
and the complexity of schemes used to steal identities. This          Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the author and
grant will enable us to help victims restore their credit, preserve   do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the
their identities, and recover financial losses.” The southwestern     U.S. Department of Justice.

                                               LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 20                                                             JUSTICE AT WORK

          Lone Star Legal Aid’s Former Board Chair Appointed to
          Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
            Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, the first Board Chair of                     “Judge Walker Elrod brought freshness to our Board of
          Houston-based Lone Star Legal Aid, was confirmed by the U.S.             Directors. Combining her corporate legal background with a
          Senate on October 4 to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of               genuine concern for low-income clients, she quickly went to
          Appeals, which hears cases from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.       work on board committees and earned the respect of both the
            Elrod acted as a director of Lone Star Legal Aid and one               staff and her fellow board members,” said Dwayne Bilton,
          of its predecessors for several years leading up to her 2002             Chief Operating Officer of Lone Star Legal Aid. “Judge Walker
          appointment as a District Court Judge for Harris County, Texas.          Elrod brought to the district court bench the same scholarly,
            Lone Star Legal Aid leaders credit Elrod, a native of Port Arthur,     hard-working, yet caring philosophy that made her successful
          Texas, for her dedication to the agency’s client population.             in her legal career. I am convinced that she will be a tremendous
          In particular, Paul Furrh, Chief Executive Officer, notes that           and worthy addition to the federal court system.”
          Judge Walker Elrod “has great appreciation and understanding
          of the issues affecting rural East Texas and its residents.”               Information provided by Lone Star Legal Aid.

          Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program Holds Silver
          Anniversary Pro Bono Awards Celebration
             The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP), a joint                 President, and Stanley Mays, Chair of the Board for Legal Aid of
          program of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of                   NorthWest Texas, presented the awards to the deserving recipients.
          NorthWest Texas, recently celebrated 25 years of pro bono in
          Dallas. On October 4, DVAP held its Silver Anniversary Pro                 Contributed by Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas.
          Bono Awards Celebration at the Belo Mansion to honor law
          firms and attorneys for their volunteer efforts in providing legal
          services to Dallas’ low-income residents. This year’s prestigious Pro
          Bono Law Firm Award was presented to Baker Botts, L.L.P. for its
          outstanding pro bono contributions. Robert M. Castle, III, an
          associate with Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP, received the Pro Bono
          Lawyer of the Year Award. A special award was presented to the
          trailblazers who, in 1982, established the first legal clinic in
          Dallas, which has since grown into five clinics each month,
          assisting thousands of clients. The founders of that first clinic were
          Will Pryor, Hon. Brenda Garrett Green, Bill Grabinski, Hon.
          Merrill Hartmann, and Chris Reed-Brown. The Outstanding Pro
          Bono Mentor Award was bestowed on Barkley T. Miller, a wills
          and estate planning specialist who is an invaluable resource to
          DVAP’s volunteer attorneys.                                                Among the founders of the first legal clinic in Dallas were (left to
             Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News presided over the                 right) Will Pryor, Hon. Brenda Garrett Green, Bill Grabinski,
          ceremony, and Beverly Godbey, the Dallas Bar Association                   Hon. Merrill Hartmann, and Chris Reed-Brown.

                                                           LEGALFRONT              WINTER 2008
                                                        JUSTICE AT WORK                                                                     PAGE 21

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas Presents 2007
Angel of Freedom Awards
   Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI), a nonprofit          each community and law enforcement agency. Without key
agency in Dallas, has recently announced the 2007 recipients of       partnerships such as this, HRI would not be able to complete
the prestigious Angel of Freedom Awards. This year, Angel of          its mission. HRI recognizes the considerable contribution
Freedom Awards were presented to the Texas Bar Foundation,            Ms. Haecker has made in the lives of these victims and is
Ms. Kathy Haecker and Sidley Austin LLP. The awards presen-           extremely grateful to her for her role in this life-saving process.
tation took place at the Annual HRI Thanksgiving Event, held          Ms. Haecker remarked that she is “amazed, overwhelmed and
November 5 at The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of              honored to receive this award.” She added that she is “glad to
Asian Art in Dallas.                                                  be a part of helping people and thinks it is sad that there are
   These organizations and individuals have made significant          victims like this here in the United States and is happy to be
contributions, enabling HRI to better serve its clients and to        part of doing something about it.” She also wished to recognize
meet the mission of the organization. The generosity of these         the police forces in Hurst, Euless and Bedford who made this
awardees has made a major difference in the lives of many             effort possible.
people living in north Texas.                                            Sidley Austin, LLP has significantly contributed its talent and
   Human Rights Initiative of North Texas provides free legal         resources to assist the clients of HRI. Sidley has a long tradition
representation and social services to victims of human rights         of providing pro bono services, with a policy that strongly
abuses and serves as a community resource on international            encourages all attorneys to devote time to pro bono legal
human rights issues. Each year, approximately 50,000 people           matters. Sidley has more than 1,700 attorneys around the
from around the world are granted asylum in the United States.        globe, practicing in virtually every area of substantive law. A
Those granted asylum have suffered tremendous persecution             majority of the firm’s Dallas attorneys have become involved
and torture in their native lands. HRI also assists indigent          with HRI’s legal matters, donating more than $200,000 in legal
immigrants with special abuse issues, such as women and               services. Without the support of Sidley Austin, HRI would not
children that are victims of domestic violence.                       have had the capacity to assist many of the clients served by this
   The Texas Bar Foundation (TBF) has supported the work of           expert legal pro bono team. Jim Bradley, Managing Partner, of
HRI since the inception of the agency. TBF was one of the first       the Dallas office, said, “We are honored to be notified that the
foundations to support HRI legal programs. Through the years          Dallas office of Sidley Austin, LLP has been selected by the
TBF has consistently supported HRI’s legal outreach to poor           Human Rights Initiative of North Texas as one of the recipients
communities, training programs for HRI’s extensive pool of pro        of its prestigious Angel of Freedom awards for 2007. We our
bono lawyers, and most recently funded video programs that            pleased to join forces with other volunteers in our community
will be used to further explain the legal process for HRI volunteer   to promote international human rights for those who flee
attorney trainings. HRI is very proud to have the long-term           persecution in their country due to religious, political, gender
support of the Texas Bar Foundation and looks forward to years        or ethnic issues. The lawyers of Sidley Austin who have donated
of continued partnership. Texas Bar Foundation Board of               their time to this important cause are grateful for the support
Trustees David R. McAtee provided the following comment,              provided to them by the full-time professionals on the
“The Texas Bar Foundation is deeply touched by this tremendous        staff of the Human Rights Initiative. We look forward to the
honor. But truly, the outstanding work of the Human Rights            opportunity to continue to provide pro bono services in the
Initiative of North Texas that we have supported over the years       future - to provide hope for those who struggle for freedom and
is the real angel of freedom for those in need.”                      equality from around our troubled world.”
   Kathy Haecker, a Crime Victims Liaison with the Hurst, Texas
Police Department (supporting Hurst, Euless and Bedford), has
been critical to reaching many of the clients in need of assistance     Contributed by Human Rights Initiative of North Texas.
from HRI in 2006-2007. She initiated contact with HRI in her
role as Crime Victims Liaison, seeking assistance for immigrant
residents in the mid-cities areas of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex
who have been victims of very serious violent crimes. Ms. Haecker
exemplifies the type of relationship HRI seeks to build with

                                               LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 22                                                              JUSTICE AT WORK

          Galveston Judges Support Voluntary Pro Bono
             On April 18, 2000, every district, county, and associate judge            Steve McIntyre, managing attorney of LSLA’s Galveston office
          in Galveston County signed a resolution supporting voluntary              and member of the Pro Bono Committee, said, “We really appre-
          pro bono service by all attorneys practicing in Galveston County.         ciate the hard work of the bar over the last seven years. I hope this
          On August 15, 2007, the judges in those courts renewed their              renewed public commitment by all our judges will persuade more
          strong support of voluntary pro bono services.                            attorneys to do pro bono work. Helping those less fortunate and
             The twelve judges signed the new resolution, reminding lawyers         providing legal services to the poor and working poor is a way
          of their ethical obligation to provide legal assistance to poor people.   lawyers in our county can give back to the community.”
          The resolution encouraged “each and every” attorney practicing in            For more information about the resolution, contact Michelle
          Galveston County to “make themselves available for referrals from         Bassett, President of the Galveston County Bar Association, at
          the Galveston County Bar Association Pro Bono Committee.” The             mbassett@mebassett.com or Jeff Kilgore, President-elect, at
          Committee works with Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) to refer cases in         mediate4u@yahoo.com.
          many areas of the law including, family, probate, and guardianship.
                                                                                      Contributed by the Galveston County Bar Association.

                                                                POVERTY LAW PRACTICE

          By Robert Doggett

          Housing Authority Policy Held Illegal                                     part of it was used to refinance an otherwise valid prior lien.
             On January 3, 2008, a federal court struck down a housing              Please note the court must still find equity exists, so discovery into
          authority policy that required applicants to obtain guardianships         all the bad acts of the lender is warranted. LaSalle Bank Nat’l Ass’n
          for children who were not their own in order to be eligible for           v. White, 51 Tex. Sup. J. 259, 2007 Tex. LEXIS 1129 (Tex. 2007).
          assistance. The court has given the housing authority 60 days to          Home Equity Law Changes, But Commissions Need Over Six
          come up with another policy that does not violate the Fair                Months to Comply
          Housing Act’s prohibition on familial status discrimination.                 With the passage and adoption of H.J.R. 72 in November
          This decision should open the door for many more poor families,           2007, Texas home equity lending law changed (effective
          who have children in their custody with written permission of a           December 4). As some of the changes will impact the interpretive
          parent, to obtain affordable housing. Although the court declined         rules adopted by the Texas Finance and Credit Union commis-
          to grant the plaintiff damages, the case is a major victory.              sions, the commissions have requested that the appellate court
          Ortega v. Housing Authority of Brownsville, No. B-06-199 (S.D.            abate the case currently challenging some of their rules (Finance
          Tex. January 3, 2008). For more information, contact Fred Fuchs           Commission, et al. v. ACORN, et al., Third Court of Appeals, No.
          or Julie Balovich at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.                           03-06-00273-CV). Although the voters approved the changes to
          Texas Supreme Court Trumps Constitution                                   the constitution in November, the commissions are requesting
             A recent issue of Legal Front (Vol. 8, No. 3, Summer 2007,             that the court abate the case until June 2008 so they have time to
          p 24), mentioned the case of LaSalle Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. White,           modify the rules impacted by the changes to the constitution.
          217 S.W.3d 573 (Tex. App.–San Antonio 2006, pet. granted).                (Meanwhile their current rules are arguably valid and safe harbors
          Without needing oral argument, the Texas Supreme Court                    for lenders to continue to use. Tex. Const. art. XVI, § 50(u).) The
          quickly reversed the entire San Antonio appellate court (sitting          commissions have met to issue rules in other matters, and they
          en banc) and specifically held that the Texas Constitution does           admit that their home equity rules are now incongruent with the
          not trump the judicial doctrine of equitable subrogation. So, a           highest law of the state and will of the voters, but they claim to
          client may have an illegal home equity loan, which would                  need six more months, it seems, to figure it all out.
          normally entitle the borrower to a release of the lien and all
          payments made on the loan; however, the forfeiture provision
          in the Texas Constitution does not wipe out the entire debt if              Robert Doggett is a staff attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

                                                            LEGALFRONT              WINTER 2008
                                                    POVERTY LAW PRACTICE                                                                      PAGE 23

New Regs Coming. What did you do to improve them?
By Robert Doggett
   Per Senate Bill 1520, property tax loans are now more regulated,    to be in Austin, have deep pockets, or have hoards of people to
but much of the new law is still to come by administrative             submit comments with you to impact an administrative agency.
rule. S.B. 1520, Tex. Leg. 80th, R.S. (effective Sept. 1, 2007). By    You do not have to list client names or other confidential
the time you read this, Rules 89.504, relating to disclosure, and      information. You can merely submit a comment on a proposed
89.601, relating to limitations on closing costs, will likely          rule by letter or even email. Besides property tax loan rules and
have been adopted by the Finance Commission. 7 TAC, Part 5,            home equity loan rules, there are manufactured housing rules, car
Chapter 89. Property tax loans are the payday loans of home            transaction rules, consumer debt rules, tax refund anticipation
lending, and the Texas Legislature saw fit to try to eliminate         loan rules, and the list goes on and on (and these are currently
some of the abuses that have been surfacing of late, but they          being amended by the agencies). The industries affected by
delegated much of their authority to the Office of the                 these rules are very organized. Why aren’t we? In the format of
Consumer Credit Commissioner and the Finance Commission.               the wonderful Donald Rumsfeld:
(Besides disclosure and a cap, the new law also requires either
judicial foreclosure or the hybrid 736 foreclosure application           1. Are comments to rules important? Absolutely. Agencies
process that had been solely used for home equity loans.) The               listen to comments and sometimes modify the rules.
property tax lenders provided the agency with comments                   2. Do the rules affect our clients? Everyday.
attempting to persuade it that they provide a wonderful service          3. Isn’t somebody doing these already from the consumer
to people and that their closing costs should be capped at a high           side? You would be surprised.
level so that they can help as many people as possible. Let the          4. Is submitting a comment easy? Yep.
market forces keep costs low, presumably. What might you say             5. Might we divide up different rule categories to different
in response? Or, rather, what did you say in response?                      advocate teams? Sounds good to me.
   There are hosts of regulations that affect our clients, and we        6. Is this one more thing you don’t have time for that
have a unique ability to provide real world comments to agencies.           management may not emphasize? Probably.
The staff of these agencies actually seek out our comments               7. Should we do this anyway? No doubt.
because we are often the closest to the problem from the consumer
side. We are not prohibited from submitting written                      Check out www.foreclosurebuzz.org for the latest
comments in public rule-making proceedings per Legal Services            foreclosure information. If you wish to contribute to
Corporation (LSC) regulations either — an advocate need only             the site, contact Robert Doggett at rdoggett@trla.org.
keep track of the time spent and any written materials provided
to the agency, charge the time to another source besides LSC,            Robert Doggett is a staff attorney with Texas RioGrande
and report the activity on a six month report. You do not have         Legal Aid.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Partners with ABA on Standards
for Representation in Civil Protection Order Cases
  The American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on                     help develop the standards. In addition, staff from many other
Domestic Violence has released the first ever standards for legal      LSC-funded programs also contributed to the development of
representation in civil protection order cases.                        these standards.
  The new standards focus on the intersection of domestic                 “Texas RioGrande Legal Aid is proud to have partnered with
violence, sexual assault and stalking in regards to civil protection   the American Bar Association for this project. These standards
orders, and address how culture, language, immigration status,         are an important tool in providing quality legal services to victims
age and/or disability may affect representation of clients.            of domestic violence and in helping them rebuild their lives and
  Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorneys Laura Martinez,                  the lives of their families,” said Dietz.
Ramona Natera, and Kevin Dietz—all domestic violence
experts—partnered with the ABA and other organizations to                Information provided by the Legal Services Corporation.

                                                LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 24                                                        POVERTY LAW PRACTICE

          Congress Considers Ways to Help Public Defenders,
          Civil Legal Aid Attorneys Cope with Law School Debt
          By Richard Goemann and Don Saunders

             Washington’s long, hot summer has provided supporters of              balance is forgiven at the end of that time, rather than after 25
          loan repayment assistance legislation with real reason for hope          years. The bill guarantees borrowers with government-guaranteed
          for relief for civil and criminal justice attorneys faced with           bank loans the right to consolidate to take advantage of this
          staggering levels of law school debt. For many of these attorneys,       program. Public service includes civil legal aid, public defense,
          debt load and relatively low public interest salaries are impene-        and in addition, all employment by governments and by
          trable barriers preventing them from pursuing careers as public          organizations that are exempt from tax under Sec. 501(c)(3) of
          defenders or civil legal aid attorneys. As this article goes to press,   the tax law. Borrowers who have direct loans or who consolidate
          three major pieces of relevant legislation have either passed or         now may start counting the ten years on Oct. 1, 2007.
          are proceeding successfully through the legislative process.                The provisions of this debt relief and 10-year forgiveness bill
                                                                                   hold great potential in helping employers to retain civil legal aid
          I. Income-Based Repayment                                                and criminal indigent defense attorneys. The bill can be viewed at
             The College Cost Reduction Act (H.R.2669), passed by                  http://kennedy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/HR2669_conf_rep
          Congress in early September, includes Sections 203 and 401               ort.pdf. An excellent article by Professor Schrag explaining
          providing for “income-based repayment (IBR)” options for                 the program and how to use it can be found at:
          federal educational debt for public interest lawyers (and many           http://www.law.georgetown.edu/news/releases/documents/Forg
          others embarked on long-term public service careers).                    iveness.pdf
             Section 203. This provision, created by Senator Edward                   A good Web site containing additional information can be
          Kennedy (D-MA), provides a new repayment/forgiveness option,             found at: http://projectonstudentdebt.org
          an improved model of the prior “income-contingent repayment                 For more information, contact Don Saunders, NLADA
          (ICR)” program which has been on the books since 1993. Most              director of Civil Legal Services at d.saunders@nlada.org.
          government-guaranteed loans are eligible for participation
          under Section 203 and there is no prerequisite requirement to            II. John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act
          consolidate loans prior to electing an IBR plan. The essential           of 2007
          benefit of an IBR plan is that it caps a borrower’s payment                 The John R. Justice (JRJ) Prosecutors and Defenders
          at roughly 15 percent of her adjusted gross income minus                 Incentive Act of 2007 would benefit the criminal justice system
          150 percent of the poverty level.                                        by creating a student loan repayment program for law school
             Professor Philip Schrag from Georgetown Law School, a                 graduates who wish to pursue careers as prosecutors or public
          leading proponent of the legislation, estimates that, for a typical      defenders. NLADA began developing support for loan repayment
          borrower owing $100,000 with a $40,000 salary, monthly                   assistance for defenders in the early part of this decade under
          payments during the first year would be reduced from                     the leadership of former Defender Legal Services Director Scott
          $1,151/month to $309/month. After 25 years, the IBR plan                 Wallace. Through the years, we have built partnerships with
          allows the remainder of the loan to be forgiven. This program            other advocacy organizations and have returned to Capitol Hill,
          is most valuable for helping make loan payments affordable for           often supported by dedicated members of the American
          attorneys with particular financial needs during a given period.         Council of Chief Defenders. It has been that persistence over
          Few will likely see the 25-year forgiveness period as an incentive       the years combined with the dedication of the ACCD and our
          to stay in public interest law. The provision is not tied to the         willingness to reach out to both likely and unlikely allies that
          performance of public interest work by the participant.                  has brought us to the brink of passage.
             Section 401. In combination with Section 203, this section               The bill establishes a program of student loan repayment for
          provides a very promising approach to enabling public interest           borrowers who agree to remain employed for at least three
          lawyers to pursue careers in indigent defense or civil legal aid. A      years, as state or local prosecutors or as state, local, or federal
          borrower may use the affordable IBR repayment level specified            public defenders (note that federal prosecutors are already eligible
          by Sec. 203, but if the borrower either has a federal direct             for loan relief through existing federal programs). It allows
          loan or consolidates her education debt into a federal direct            eligible attorneys to receive student loan debt repayments of up
          consolidation loan before starting to repay the debt and then            to $10,000 per year, with a maximum aggregate over time of
          works in full-time public service for 10 years, the remaining            $60,000. The legislation would authorize up to $25 million per

                                                           LEGALFRONT              WINTER 2008
                                                  POVERTY LAW PRACTICE                                                                   PAGE 25

year for loan repayments. The program would be administered          Prospects for the Fall
by the Department of Justice. The chief sponsor of JRJ in the           Now that the Higher Education Amendments Act has
Senate is Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL). Representative David        passed the Senate, we will turn our attention to the House to
Scott (D-GA) sponsored the House version, which was passed           ensure the inclusion of similar authorizing language for the
earlier this year on the House floor. The House added several        John R. Justice bill and the Harkin measure covering civil legal
amendments to the Scott version, including a cap and sunset          assistance attorneys.
provision, which make it less desirable than the Durbin bill.           While no House version of the HEA has been introduced to
Due to a hold placed upon the bill by Senator Coburn (R-OK),         date, proponents speculate that the House will consider its own
Senator Durbin moved to include JRJ as an amendment to the           version of the HEA prior to the fall adjournment. Rep. George
Higher Education Amendments (HEA) Act (S.1642) on July               Miller (D-CA), chair of the House Committee on Education
23. The HEA was managed on the floor by Senators Kennedy             and Labor, has indicated his intention to do so once the
(D-MA) and Enzi (R-WY). The Durbin motion was agreed to              committee takes up the No Child Left Behind legislation.
by a voice vote, thus moving the consideration of JRJ to the            NLADA is working in coalition with a number of groups
House Committee on Education and Labor.                              in support of both the Durbin/Scott bills and the Harkin
  For more information, contact NLADA Director of Defender           legislation. We are acutely aware of the huge hurdles faced by
Legal Services Richard Goemann at r.goemann@nlada.org.               public defenders and civil legal aid attorneys when confronted
                                                                     by their often colossal debt burdens and will take every possible
III. Harkin Civil Legal Assistance Loan Repayment Act                step to ensure the successful passage of both of these bills.
   The civil repayment bill, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin           With the income-based repayment and forgiveness provision
(D-IA), authorizes up to $10,000,000 for aid to “civil legal         already enacted and a positive outlook with regard to the two
assistance” attorneys. Participants can receive up to $6,000 per     direct payment bills pending in the House, we are very
year up to a total amount of $40,000 per participant. Under          optimistic that some meaningful federal loan repayment
the bill, the Department of Education would be the agency            assistance will become a reality this fall.
administering the program. During the aforementioned Senate
consideration of the Higher Education Amendments Act,                  Richard Goemann is the National Legal Aid & Defender
Senators Harkin and Ben Cardin (D-MD) moved to include               Association (NLADA) director of Defender Legal Services.
the civil bill as a second degree amendment to the John R. Justice   Don Saunders is the NLADA director of Civil Legal Services.
amendment. Senator Durbin agreed to the inclusion and the
Harkin civil loan repayment measure was likewise added to the
HEA. That bill passed the full Senate on July 24. The amendment        This article originally appeared in the September-December
is identical in terms to S.1167. That bill can be viewed at          2007 issue of the NLADA magazine Cornerstone and is reprinted
http://www.nlada.org/Civil/Civil_GovRelations/Harkin_Bill.           with permission from the NLADA.

FEMA, ABA Enter into New Agreement on Disaster Services
   Subsequent to a lawsuit filed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid        was finalized, the State Bar decided that its hotline would
(TRLA) against Federal Emergency Management Agency                   continue to forward calls to the appropriate legal aid programs
(FEMA), alleging that FEMA was wrongfully limiting TRLA’s            without regard to FEMA’s objections.
access to disaster victims, the American Bar Association (ABA)         Because the new ABA/FEMA agreement essentially mooted
and FEMA have entered into a new agreement on disaster               the First Amendment issues raised in TRLA’s lawsuit, TRLA
services provided nationwide.                                        dismissed its lawsuit without prejudice. TRLA hopes that the
   The new agreement eliminates a provision in an earlier            new agreement can be implemented without any further need
agreement that prohibited legal services providers from assisting,   for litigation. Indeed, pursuant to the new agreement, TRLA
or even advising, disaster victims on potential claims against       and FEMA worked effectively to assist disaster victims affected
FEMA, or any government entity. The prohibition applied to           by Tropical Storm Erin. TRLA attorneys wish to continue
the disaster hotline maintained by the State Bar of Texas, as well   focusing on providing services directly to disaster victims, and
as legal services staff and volunteers who were onsite at FEMA’s     hope that the policy choices that led to the past litigation have
Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC’s). Even before the agreement         been reversed so that no further litigation will be necessary.

                                              LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 26                                                      POVERTY LAW PRACTICE

          Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Texas Right-to-Counsel Case
             The United States Supreme Court announced that it has agreed          The case is spearheaded by Austin attorney Andrea Marsh.
          to decide exactly when an indigent defendant has a constitutional     Formerly of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) and the
          right to appointed counsel in Rothgery v. Gillespie County,           American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Marsh now directs
          No. 07-440. The Court’s decision will have a major impact on the      the Texas Fair Defense Project. Mr. Rothgery’s case originated
          legal rights of poor people across the United States by clarifying    at TRLA and TRLA has remained involved in the litigation as
          when a poor person has the right to see a lawyer after arrest.        part of its longstanding efforts to protect the civil rights of poor
             The case stems from the arrest of Walter Allen Rothgery in         people who become involved in the criminal justice system.
          Gillespie County, Texas in July 2002. Though he repeatedly               According to TRLA attorney Jerome Wesevich, “The decision
          asked for a court-appointed attorney, Rothgery was not                by the Fifth Circuit would have allowed people to be jailed for
          appointed one until six months later in January 2003.                 six months without a lawyer. We believe that the Fifth Circuit’s
          Appointed counsel promptly proved Mr. Rothgery’s innocence            opinion violated settled law of the Supreme Court. The
          and the charges against him were dismissed.                           Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case is a very hopeful sign
             Rothgery filed suit against Gillespie County for violating his     for everyone who seeks criminal justice, but particularly for
          Sixth Amendment right to counsel because he could have avoided        poor people in Texas.”
          jail time had an attorney been appointed promptly. A federal
          district court ruled against Rothgery and that decision was upheld      Information provided by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
          by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

          Bankruptcy Judges’ New Standing Order Promotes
          Pro Bono Work In The Southern District Of Texas
          By Johnathan C. Bolton
             Since the year 2000, consumer bankruptcy filings have              things, that a debt relief agency providing bankruptcy assistance
          increased at an alarming rate. Many bankruptcy petitions are          must conduct a “reasonable inquiry” regarding the information
          being filed by debtors on a pro se basis. Many of those filing are    for inclusion on the petition, schedules or statement of financial
          the working poor or other low-income debtors—people who               affairs. Finally, section 528 requires, among other things, that a
          could most benefit from the services of an experienced lawyer.        debt relief agency “clearly and conspicuously use the following
             Prior to 2005, bankruptcy attorneys from small and large           statement in any advertisement: ‘We are a debt relief agency.
          firms alike volunteered to provide legal counsel in these cases.      We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy
          However, with the enactment of the Bankruptcy Abuse                   Code.’ or a substantially similar statement.” This compulsory
          Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (“BAPCPA”)             “disclosure” seemed especially inappropriate for larger law firms
          came new provisions in the Bankruptcy Code that wreaked               whose bankruptcy sections are almost exclusively oriented
          havoc on the ability of attorneys to represent bankruptcy             toward representation of creditors, creditors committees and
          debtors on a pro bono basis.                                          trustees in business cases. In many such firms, the only “debt
             Specifically, section 101(12A) of the Bankruptcy Code, as          relief ” work for consumers had been done on a strictly pro
          revised by BAPCPA, created and defined the term “debt relief          bono basis. For them, the simple way to avoid having to carry
          agency” and placed a great number of restrictions, affirmative        the “debt relief agency” moniker imposed by BAPCPA was to
          obligations and potential liabilities upon any attorney or law firm   discontinue all pro bono representation of consumer debtors.
          bearing that unhappy designation. The term has had a chilling            The Bankruptcy Section of the Commercial Law League of
          effect on many eligible pro bono bankruptcy service providers.        America recently conducted a survey to get a sense of
             For example, Section 526 of the Bankruptcy Code imposes            how bankruptcy practitioners have reacted to BAPCPA. Some
          potential liability on attorneys in a “debt relief agency” for any    attorneys surveyed stated that their firms had affirmatively
          statement made by an assisted person in a document filed in a         determined that they would do no more consumer debtor work,
          case if such statement “should have been known” to be untrue          and some cut out all debtor representation, including those
          or misleading. Section 527 similarly requires, among other            debtors who would proceed under the new chapter 11 provisions

                                                         LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                                                    POVERTY LAW PRACTICE                                                                       PAGE 27

for individuals. A third of respondents said that pro bono                ORDERED that counsel thus excluded from the definition
representation had ceased because of BAPCPA, and nearly                 of “debt relief agency” are not required to comply with the
13 percent said the amount of pro bono work they do has                 requirements applicable to debt relief agencies under sections
decreased. In a related question, 28 percent of respondents said        526 through 528 of the Bankruptcy Code.
they had noticed an increase in pro se filings.
  On September 11, 2007, all six of the Bankruptcy Judges of               The Standing Order has re-opened the door for bankruptcy
the Southern District of Texas entered a standing order (the            attorneys to once again engage in pro bono work representing
“Standing Order”) that exempts attorneys taking pro bono                the working poor or other low-income debtors in individual
cases from the new requirements imposed by BAPCPA. The                  bankruptcy cases and has become a model for other Bankruptcy
Standing Order decrees that it is:                                      Courts around the state to follow. A copy of the order may be
                                                                        downloaded at
  ORDERED that counsel representing a pro bono debtor in                http://www.txs.uscourts.gov/bankruptcy/genord/2007/go2007-3
this district are not debt relief agencies or debt relief agents        .pdf.
under sections 526 through 528 of the Bankruptcy Code merely
because of the pro bono representation. It is further                     Johnathan Bolton is a Senior Associate at Fublright and
                                                                        Jaworski, L.L.P.

‘Picking My Brain’ About What Seniors Need
By Ivan Arceneaux
  Galveston County senior citizens are blessed in many ways.               With what’s left of my brain, I suggest that an attempt
One such blessing is the Lone Star Legal Aid contract with the          be made at these sessions to pick the brains of those seniors
Galveston County Parks and Senior Services Department to                in attendance as to what they want and need in the line of
provide legal information at the Senior Citizens Centers in             informational and inspirational meetings. Toward that goal, I
Bacliff, Dickinson, Galveston and La Marque. The Lone Star              would like to point to the recommendations that came out of
Legal Aid office in Galveston also offers legal services for seniors.   the 2005 White House Conference on Aging as the starting
  I was honored by their recent request to “pick my brain”              point for such a discussion.
about the needs of our senior citizens legal-wise in preparation           Hopefully, all presentations at the senior centers will be widely
for planned presentations at the centers. Here goes:                    publicized so that all older Americans in Galveston County
                                                                        have the opportunity to attend. Ideally, the programs need to be
  1. The Social Security Act of 1935 was the first law in U.S.          taped and filmed so that all baby boomers and the professional
     history that directly addressed the needs of older Americans.      service providers and family caregivers who cannot attend
     It is like the heart pumping the blood that pumps the              a daytime meeting at a senior center can be provided the
     lifeblood of being old in America. I recommend a first and         opportunity to hear and or see these important presentations.
     frank presentation on the past, present and future of Social          Most of all, my brain tells me that the heart and soul of all
     Security as it will be a key issue in the 2008 election.           talks to older Americans should center on empowering them to
  2. The Older Americans Act of 1965 is the bible for those             be their own advocates. As a follow-up to these Lone Star Legal
     who serve senior citizens. The 10 objectives in its preamble       Aid talks, some organization like the Galveston County
     are like the Ten Commandments or like the Bill of Rights           Interfaith might want to conduct home meetings on the needs
     and amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Every older               of the seniors in their churches and communities.
     American and everyone serving them in any capacity
     should be familiar with it. A Lone Star Legal Aid                    Ivan Arceneaux is a Galveston County senior citizen activist. He
     presentation focusing on the Older Americans Act can               can be reached at ivan.a@sbcglobal.net.
     help us all to know more about the act and how it contin-
     ues to affect us today.                                              This article is reprinted with permission from the Galveston
  3. Medicare recipients received their 2008 booklet by mail            County Daily News.
     last week. A presentation before the annual December
     renewal of one’s Part D Prescription Drug plan is a must.

                                                LEGALFRONT              WINTER 2008
PAGE 28                                                     POVERTY LAW PRACTICE

          Federal Court Approves Settlement in Day Laborer Lawsuit
             U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle approved a settlement reached     The City also confirmed its belief that the day laborers provide a
          by day laborers in a lawsuit filed against the City of Brownsville   service that is valuable to the city, local businesses, and families.
          and Brownsville Chief of Police, Carlos Garcia, over violations         According to TRLA attorney Nathaniel Norton, “We are happy
          of the workers’ First Amendment rights to protected speech and       that an agreement has been reached that preserves the rights of
          assembly. The settlement resolves most of the legal issues brought   the day laborers while also ensuring the safety of the area.”
          forward in the original lawsuit.                                        Representatives from both parties agreed that the City of
             Filed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the leading            Brownsville does not want to prevent people from seeking
          provider of legal aid in Texas, the lawsuit alleged that             legitimate employment. As long as employers and employees
          Brownsville police arrested laborers to prevent them from            are not interfering with traffic safety and are conducting
          seeking employment in the 1400 block of Adams Street. Police         legitimate business, the City is not troubled by 1400 Adams Street
          officials had improperly accused the laborers of criminal conduct    remaining a day labor pick-up site.
          to justify the arrests.                                                 “The City will continue enforcing criminal laws in the area,
             In the settlement, the City agreed that laborers will not be      just as it does everywhere,” added Norton. “But day laborers will
          threatened with arrest simply for seeking employment. The            be able to continue using Adams Street to find ways to provide
          City of Brownsville stated that the 1400 block of Adams Street       for their families.”
          will remain a day-labor pick up site, as it has been for decades.
                                                                                 Contributed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

          Victory Against Hospital that Refused Client Access to
          Medical Care
             Ayana Chestnut didn’t feel well. For two days she had been           Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) attorney
          vomiting, shaking, and suffering from severe headaches, high         Susan Zinn, Chestnut filed a complaint against Southeast
          blood pressure, and abdominal pain. Chestnut, who had                Baptist Hospital with the U.S. Department of Health and
          recently relocated to Texas after Hurricane Katrina, was 26 years    Human Services in December 2006. After an investigation, the
          old and without insurance. Knowing that her health was in            Department found that Southeast Baptist Hospital violated the
          danger, her parents took her to the emergency room at                Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA),
          Southeast Baptist Hospital in San Antonio.                           which requires emergency rooms to make reasonable efforts to
             After an examination that lasted approximately two minutes,       provide treatment to patients.
          Chestnut was told that nothing was wrong and was sent home.             As a result of TRLA’s work and the investigation’s findings,
          No tests had been ordered and no prescriptions had been written.     the Baptist Hospital system has developed a remedial plan that
             As a nurse’s aid, Chestnut’s mother was concerned by her          includes training for all emergency room nurses in the evaluation,
          daughter’s lack of treatment and continued to monitor her            treatment, and review of patients with high blood pressure. The
          symptoms. With her health continuing to decline, Chestnut’s          plan applies to all of the system’s hospitals in the San Antonio
          parents took her to Texas Medical Clinic with the hope that          area and is in the process of initial implementation.
          someone would be able to help her. Eventually, Chestnut was             “Hospitals have an obligation to help those in medical need,”
          seen by a doctor who, upon seeing her condition, waived the          stated Zinn. “The new requirements will provide additional
          clinic’s fees and referred her to Southwest General Hospital.        safeguards that people will receive the attention they deserve
          There she was checked for having had a heart attack and stroke.      when they need it.”
          She was also immediately put on five different medications and
          admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit the next morning.       Contributed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

                                                        LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                                                  TEXAS BAR FOUNDATION                                                                        PAGE 29

                             Texas Bar Foundation Awards Grants
                             The Texas Bar Foundation awarded         Mosaic Family Services, Inc.
                             the following grants, among others,      Multicultural Legal Services Program - $14,000
                             in October. For more information,           The grant will fund rent, online legal libraries, legal software,
                             including information on grant           and legal reference manuals to assist attorneys working for the legal
                             applications, visit the Texas Bar        rights of immigrant victims of violence and human trafficking.
                             Foundation Website at www.txbf.org.
                                                                      Boat People S.O.S., Inc.
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.                                       Citizenship and Immigration Service Center - $11,060
Legal Access to Rural Shelters Technology Initiative - $40,000          The grant will assist the organization in providing legal
  The grant will fund technology upgrades for 34 locations/           representation, advocacy, education and outreach services to the
shelters. Technology will include printers, computers, internet       Vietnamese community, particularly immigration applications,
access, and travel expenses for IT personnel to provide training      disability waivers, and disaster victims.
on new equipment.
                                                                      Community Justice Foundation
Texas Defender Service                                                Community Justice Program Bankruptcy DVD - $10,000
Capital Trial Project - $25,000                                          The Bankruptcy DVD will work in conjunction with weekly
   The funding will work toward implementing the standards            legal clinics to advise and assist low-income residents who are
set in the recently adopted Guidelines and Standards for Texas        considering filing for bankruptcy.
Capital Counsel. The goal is to ensure that all attorneys trying
capital cases in Texas are given the access to information and        Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
experience needed to provide all defendants with quality defense.     Justice for Women and Children Project - $10,000
                                                                        The grant will fund an expansion of the existing project to
Innocence Project of Texas                                            include educational outreach to pro bono attorneys, school
Dallas County DNA Project - $25,000                                   employees and students regarding provisions of Special Immigrant
   The grant will be used to pay for investigations and DNA           Juvenile Status.
testing of inmates in Dallas County that have a plausible claim
of innocence.                                                         Nueces County Neighborhood Justice, Inc.
                                                                      Bi-Lingual Basic and Family Mediation Project - $8,000
Alternatives to Guardianship                                             The grant will fund training scholarships for bilingual
Expansion and Continuation of Services for Low-Income Texans -        volunteers to become mediators for the organization. Many
$20,000                                                               volunteers are willing to give time, but are unable to pay for the
   The grant provides money management training to senior             necessary training. In providing the training free of charge to
citizens to assist in offering an alternative to a guardianship       the volunteers, the organization will be able to recruit and
situation. The organization plans to use the funds to open six        retain more bilingual mediators.
additional sites across Texas.
                                                                      Hidalgo County Bar Foundation, Inc.
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Inc.                          Community Justice Program - $3,500
Pro Bono Case Management Software - $19,000                             The grant is to purchase two portable Dell computer stations
   The software includes case management software designed for        for volunteer attorneys working at the Community Justice
pro bono use, immigrant forms software, and technical support         Clinics, and for research and document preparation at the
for one year. The organization is also requesting a projector to      Foundation offices.
assist with training for pro bono attorneys.
                                                                      Political Asylum Project of Austin
Catholic Family Service Inc.                                          Immigrant Victims of Family Violence Outreach Project - $3,249
Expansion of Rural Immigration Impact Project - $15,000                 PAPA intends to use this grant to cover non-personnel costs
   Funds will be used to complete accreditation training for          for an outreach and education program concerning the
2 staff people, and hire and begin training for an additional staff   Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that provides legal relief
attorney. The attorneys travel a circuit around the surrounding       for immigrant victims. Outreach targets victims of domestic
counties assisting with immigration and citizenship legal issues.     violence and social service personnel who work with them.

                                               LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 30                                             TEXAS ACCESS JUSTICE FOUNDATION

          EJW/TAJF Partnership Works for Justice
            The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) supports Equal Justice Works Fellows with projects at TAJF-grantee organizations.
          The following are projects currently being implemented by the 2006 and 2007 Classes of Fellows. The fellowships are two years in
          length. The TAJF Board is currently in the process of reviewing applications for the 2008 Fellowship Class. For more information
          about the EJW/TAJF Fellows Program, contact Lisa Melton at LDMelton@teajf.org.

          2006 Equal Justice Works Fellows

          Ramey Ko                                                              David Sadegh
          Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Austin, TX                                 Lone Star Legal Aid, Houston, TX
          Issue Area: Housing/Homelessness                                      Issue Area: Housing/Homelessness
          University of Chicago Law School, 2006                                University of Houston Law Center, 2006

             Ramey Ko works with the Housing                                       David Sadegh is working with Lone
          Group of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Austin to educate and           Star Legal Aid to create a permanent tenants’ rights organization
          assist low-income women who are facing adverse housing                for the low-income residents of the Houston, Texas area. Though
          consequences as a result of domestic violence. Through direct         Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the
          representation of domestic violence survivors, Ramey seeks to         country, it does not yet have an organization specifically devoted
          establish firm precedent, under constitutional and fair housing       to the legal needs of tenants. Even before the availability of
          law, to protect women from eviction or denial of housing              low-income housing in the area plummeted as a result of
          benefits. The project’s legal representation also promotes the        Hurricane Katrina, Houston tenants were often at the mercy
          enforcement of newly enacted state and federal laws designed to       of unscrupulous landlords looking to maximize their profit
          protect victims of domestic violence from housing discrimination.     margins. The situation has escalated with the demand for housing
             Additionally, Ramey works with shelters, victims’ advocates,       giving landlords an even greater incentive to break the law and
          housing authorities, landlords and tenants’ associations to           either arbitrarily evict tenants or subject them to unhealthy and
          promote awareness of housing rights and encourage compliance          unsafe living conditions.
          with the law, particularly in rural areas.
                                                                                2007 Equal Justice Works Fellows
          Dustin Rynders
          Advocacy, Inc., Houston, TX                                           Jessica Alas
          Issue Area: Children/Youth                                            Montgomery County Women’s Center,
          University of Houston Law Center, 2006                                Conroe, TX
                                                                                Issue Area: Pro bono development/Pro se
             Dustin Rynders works with                                          Loyola University-New Orleans School
          Advocacy, Incorporated in their Houston office. Dustin’s project      of Law, 2007
          helps ensure that students with disabilities are given the positive
          support that they need to learn and behave appropriately in school.     Jessica Alas works with Texas’ Montgomery County Women’s
             Under current zero tolerance policies, many students are           Center (MCWC) providing free legal representation and
          expelled from public schools and sent to alternative education        education to disenfranchised individuals in the rural counties
          campuses without the benefit of counsel. Students with                north of the metro Houston area (Montgomery, Liberty, Walker
          disabilities are expelled at especially high rates because of         and Waller counties) through the development of pro se clinics
          behavior related to their disabilities. Dustin’s project will:        and the creation of a pro bono pool of local private attorneys.
          (1) establish a pilot discipline program using mediation instead      These counties, whose combined population is well over
          of mandatory punishments for minor, misdemeanor offenses;             500,000 (approximately 15 percent of whom live below the
          (2) provide direct representation to students with disabilities       poverty line), have limited access to free legal services. Jessica
          threatened with expulsion; (3) establish a network of pro bono        plans to lay the infrastructure necessary to create a sustainable
          attorneys interested in representing students; and (4) educate        pro se educational program and spur the interest of local attorneys
          parents and students about their rights.                              to donate their services on a continuing basis.

                                                         LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
                                         TEXAS ACCESS JUSTICE FOUNDATION                                                                PAGE 31

Jennifer Landau                                                      Jacob Wedemeyer
Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services,                               Texas RioGrande Legal Aid,
El Paso, TX                                                          Eagle Pass, TX
Issue Area: Immigrant Populations/Minorities                         Issue Area: Immigration and Labor
University of New Mexico School                                      University of Iowa College of Law, 2007
of Law, 2006
                                                                       Jacob Wedemeyer works with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
   Jennifer Landau works with the Removal Defense Unit at            (TRLA) in Eagle Pass, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services (DMRS), a nonprofit            TRLA has a long tradition of representing farm workers in
legal organization dedicated to serving immigrant communities        Texas and throughout several southern states. Jacob’s fellowship
in the El Paso border region. Her project was designed to            project centers on migrant and seasonal workers, both U.S.
address the dearth of resources available to immigrants who          and foreign, who work in agricultural and nonagricultural
have cases pending before the El Paso Immigration Court,             occupations. The project seeks to ensure that employers and
while being held in faraway New Mexico detention facilities.         government agencies comply with the relevant immigration
The project aims to expand DMRS’s capacity to provide legal          and labor laws. The project also includes community education
services to immigrant detainees with claims for humanitarian         and outreach to increase awareness about rights under current
relief at underserved facilities. It also endeavors to develop a     law and the effects of future guest worker proposals.
sustainable local infrastructure for representation. Jennifer will
coordinate a pro bono initiative, provide legal orientation and
counseling services to immigrant detainees, and advocate for
improved access to legal information.

Corinna Spencer-Scheurich
South Texas Civil Rights Project,
San Juan, TX
Issue Area: Consumer Rights
Northwestern School of Law, 2004

   Corinna Spencer-Scheurich has started the Colonia
Consumer Rights Project of the South Texas Civil Rights
Project to address the consumer legal needs of extremely
low-income people living along the Texas-Mexico border.
Her project establishes Consumer Rights Centers located in
colonias—poor, unincorporated rural neighborhoods. These
centers, led by youth volunteers, distribute and gather consumer
information and provide a regular schedule of financial literacy
classes. As colonia participants become skillful in navigating
traditional financial institutions and savvy in making purchases,
they help to educate others. The center participants inform a
program of impact litigation based on community priorities.
Corinna’s project is to affect the way that low income, immigrant
families participate in the market, thereby freeing up capital
and impacting the cycle of poverty along the border.

                                               LEGALFRONT            WINTER 2008
PAGE 32                                                TEXAS ACCESS JUSTICE FOUNDATION

          TAJF Luncheon with the Supreme Court of Texas
                                                                                   on the Foundation’s work throughout the year, including the
                                                                                   implementation of the IOLTA comparability rule, which requires
                                                                                   attorneys to place IOLTA accounts at banks that pay interest
                                                                                   rates comparable to similarly situated accounts.
                                                                                      James B. Sales, chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission,
                                                                                   discussed the Commission’s successes, including the Technology
                                                                                   Committee’s efforts to analyze the technological needs of the
                                                                                   legal aid community. Judge Lora Livingston provided a report
                                                                                   on the work of the American Bar Association’s Standing
                                                                                   Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants.
                                                                                      Also at the luncheon, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation
                                                                                   awarded Betty Balli Torres the prestigious Harold F. Kleinman
                                                                                   award for her outstanding contributions to legal aid for the
                                                                                   poor. Torres has served as the Foundation’s executive director
                                                                                   for six years. She has dedicated her life to public interest work,
            Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill with Betty Balli Torres,   starting her career as a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Central
            recipient of the Harold F. Kleinman award                              Texas (now Texas RioGrande Legal Aid) in 1987. She has since
                                                                                   held various direct service and administrative public interest
             On October 18, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation                 positions throughout the state. Under Torres’ leadership, the
          (Foundation) held its annual luncheon with the Supreme Court             Foundation has garnered multiple successes, including the
          of Texas. The luncheon, which is held to apprise the Court of            IOLTA comparability rule.
          statewide and national activities related to access to justice, was         The Kleinman Award is named after former Texas Access to
          emceed by Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill.                   Justice Foundation Chairman Harold F. Kleinman. The
             Texas State Representative Pete Gallego, Foundation board             Foundation, wishing to recognize Kleinman’s outstanding
          member, opened the luncheon and welcomed the 100 guests,                 character, commitment and public service to the people of
          including representatives from the judiciary, the State Bar of           Texas, created the award to confer prestige and honor upon
          Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, law firms and             leaders in the field of access to civil justice.
          legal aid programs. Representative Gallego updated the Court


                           Free online legal resource
                              for low-income Texans.

                                                             LEGALFRONT            WINTER 2008
                                                        ANNOUNCEMENTS                                                                        PAGE 33

Seeking Nominations for the ATJ Law School Commitment to
Service Award and the ATJ Law Student Pro Bono Award
   Pro bono service is critical to the development of leadership       Service Award by submitting a Nomination Form to the Texas
among law students as they prepare for the practice of law. Not        Access to Justice Commission.
only is providing pro bono legal services essential to meeting the        Similarly, the ATJ Law Student Pro Bono Award aims to
needs of low-income Texas, participation in these cases offers         recognize the dedication of a law student who has enhanced the
law students invaluable practical experience in every aspect of        delivery of quality legal services to poor Texans and underserved
client representation.                                                 communities. The ATJ Law Student Pro Bono Award is open to all
   Established by the Texas Access to Justice Commission in            law students currently enrolled in or graduating from an accred-
2007, the ATJ Law School Commitment to Service Award is                ited Texas law school.
open to all accredited law schools in Texas. The award will               Award nomination forms and criteria may be found on
honor a law school that has made significant and innovative            the Commission’s website at www.texasatj.org or by calling
strides towards increasing access to justice. A law school dean,       (800) 204-2222, ext. 1855. Nominations for both awards must
clinic professor, law student or legal services organization may       be received by May 16 at 5 p.m.
nominate a law school for the ATJ Law School Commitment to

Call for Nominations for Pro Bono Section Award
   The Supreme Court Task Force to Expand Legal Services               the Task Force hopes to motivate State Bar sections to create
Delivery will offer a $1000 prize for the three State Bar of Texas     self-sustaining pro bono projects that encourage lawyers from
sections with the best statewide pro bono projects. Recently, the      specialized practice areas to serve the indigent in Texas.
Texas Bar Foundation approved the Task Force’s request for $3,000         The three $1000 prizes will be invested in the winning sections’
to sponsor a competition among small, mid and large-sized State        pro bono programs for the following year. The awards, presented
Bar sections for the most creative and innovative pro bono projects.   in partnership with the Texas Bar Foundation, will be awarded to
   Sections in each category will compete to develop and               the winning sections at the Local Bar Leaders Conference.
implement a statewide pro bono project that promotes legal                Nomination forms must be received by March 7 at 5 p.m.
assistance to underserved populations and encourages private           For questions about this award or a nomination form, please
attorneys to engage in pro bono legal work. Through the award          call (800) 204-2222, ext. 1855.

2008 Trial Academy
   The Texas Access to Justice Commission is pleased to announce         This Academy is open to staff attorneys of nonprofit
it will host its third Texas Trial Academy on May 18-22. The           organizations providing free legal services to low income
Academy will be a five-day intensive trial advocacy skills training    Texans; however, there are a limited number of spaces available.
presented by faculty of the prestigious American College of Trial      Applications can be found online at the Texas Access to Justice
Lawyers. Topics will include voir dire, opening statements, direct     Commission’s website at www.TexasATJ.org or by e-mailing
and cross-examination and closing arguments. Experienced               TLCmail@texasbar.com. Texas Trial Academy applications
litigators who have distinguished themselves as some of the top        must be received by February 8 at 5 p.m. If you have any
trial lawyers in the country will provide live demonstrations of       questions, or need more information, please contact
their courtroom trial skills and selected participants will receive    TLCmail@texasbar.com.
valuable feedback while honing their trial skills.

                                                LEGALFRONT             WINTER 2008
PAGE 34                                                          ANNOUNCEMENTS

          Free Ethics Presentations to Local Bars
            Local Bars…are you interested in providing your members with one hour of FREE ETHICS MCLE? Texas Lawyers Care is
          available to provide presentations to local bar associations regarding legal services to the poor in Texas and how local bar association
          members can get involved to help. To schedule your FREE ETHICS MCLE, contact Texas Lawyers Care at tlcmail@texasbar.com
          or 512-427-1855/800-204-2222, ext. 1855.

          Justice for All Calendars
            Texas Lawyers Care is pleased to announce the publication of the 2008/2009 Justice for All Calendar. Available in English
          and Spanish, the Justice for All Calendar is a cost-efficient way of informing low-income Texans of their civil legal rights and
          responsibilities. The two-year calendar also contains useful phone numbers for various social services organizations, emergency
          services, and hotlines. It is pocket-sized and can be used to record appointments, work assignments, medical events, personal
          information and other items of importance.
            This edition of the Justice for All Calendar was made possible due to generous financial contributions and the hard work of
          individuals who donated their time and legal expertise to update the topics in the calendar. Texas Lawyers Care would like to
          thank the State Bar of Texas’ Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, Health Law Section, Intellectual Property Law Section,
          Military Law Section, Poverty Law Section, and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, as well as the Texas Access to Justice
          Commission, for their sponsorship of the 2008/2009 Justice for All Calendar.

          2008 Poverty Law Conference
           Join us in Austin on April 23-25, when Texas Lawyers Care will host its 11th annual Poverty Law Conference at the Austin
          Hilton Airport Hotel.

            The Poverty Law Conference provides excellent training on poverty law issues affecting low-income and poor Texans. The
          conference will feature presentations from some of the most knowledgeable practitioners in their fields. Proposed topics include:

                                                                               •   Public Utilities Issues Affecting Texans
                •   Home Equity Defenses
                                                                               •   Witness Preparation in Family Law
                •   Housing and Eviction Law Update
                                                                               •   Preparing a Trial Notebook
                •   Voucher Terminations
                                                                               •   Best Practices for Working with Homeless Clients
                •   Nuts & Bolts of Estate Planning
                                                                               •   Overview of the ADA
                •   Primer on Medicare Part D
                                                                               •   Identity Theft Update
                •   Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
                                                                               •   Payday Loans
                •   State Court Judicial Review
                                                                               •   Consumer Collection Industry
                •   EPSDT Program
                                                                               •   Special Remedies under VAWA
                •   Primer on Medicaid
                •   Creative Strategies for Possession Orders

            Advanced registration is recommended and encouraged. Participants who register on or before March 24, 2008 will be
          guaranteed conference materials. Registrants who register on-site or after March 24, 2008 will not be guaranteed conference
          materials. Late registrants will be provided materials as available.
            * A limited number of rooms have been blocked at the Hilton Austin Airport Hotel at special rates available until close of
          business March 24, or until the room block is full. Please call 512-385-6767 and reference the Poverty Law Conference to receive
          the special rate of $119/night (single or double) plus tax.
            For the latest updates on the Poverty Law Conference schedule, list of topics and speakers, and online registration, visit

                                                        LEGALFRONT              WINTER 2008
                                                      ANNOUNCEMENTS                                                                     PAGE 35

ProBAR Announces New Location for Children’s Team
  The ProBAR Children’s Team has grown up and moved out!              For other news about ProBAR visit:
ProBAR’s staff can now be found in one of two locations.            http://www.abanet.org/publicserv/immigration/probar.shtml
ProBar director Meredith Linsky, and staff working with adults,
will continue to work out of the old office. Members of               Children’s Team: ProBAR, 706 North 1st Street,
the Children’s Team should be contacted at the new office,            Harlingen, TX 78550
which - thanks to the many furniture donations received - is          956-365-3775
almost fully furnished!                                               956-365-3789 (fax)
  Plans are under way for an Open House to which all – near
and far – will be invited! As always, ProBAR thanks you for           Adult Team: ProBAR, 301 E. Madison Avenue,
your time and support!                                                Harlingen, TX 78550
                                                                      956-425-9233 (fax)

State Bar Committee Seeks Nominations for Awards
The Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee of        The W. Frank Newton Award
the State Bar of Texas seeks nominations for:                       For a group of attorneys (e.g., law firm, corporate law
                                                                    department, government attorney office, or law school faculty)
The Frank J. Scurlock Award                                         whose members have made an outstanding contribution in the
For an attorney who has provided outstanding pro bono work          provision of or access to legal services to the poor.
in the field of legal services to the poor.
                                                                    The 2008 awards will be presented at the State Bar Annual
The Pro Bono Award                                                  Meeting in Houston in June. The nominations must be
For a volunteer attorney organization that has made an              submitted on nomination forms available at www.texasbar.com
outstanding contribution toward guaranteeing access to the          or by contacting Texas Lawyers Care. Each attorney nominee
legal system by the poor.                                           must be a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas.
                                                                    The original plus six copies of each nomination should be sent
The J. Chrys Dougherty Legal Services Award                         to the Committee, c/o Texas Lawyers Care, State Bar of Texas,
For a legal services staff attorney who has made outstanding        P.O. Box 12487, Austin, Texas, 78711-2487. The street address
efforts beyond normal job expectations on behalf of the poor.       is: 1414 Colorado, Suite 604, Austin, Texas 78701-1627.
This award is presented jointly by the Committee and the Texas
Bar Foundation, and it includes a cash stipend.                     All nominations must be received in the office by Wednesday,
                                                                    February 27, 2008, at 5 p.m. A postmark of February 27,
                                                                    2008 will not suffice. For more information, call Texas Lawyers
                                                                    Care at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1855, or 512-427-1855.

Annual Litigation Update Institute
   Each year, the State Bar of Texas’ Litigation Section awards     and Ebb B. Mobley, volunteer attorney for Lone Star Legal
four scholarships, one per federal judicial district, to legal      Aid’s Gregg County Pro Bono Project. The Institute, held this
services staff attorneys and volunteers for the annual Litigation   year on January 17-18, at the Hyatt Lost Pines in Bastrop,
Update Institute. The scholarships cover conference tuition and     provides continuing legal education on both state and federal
reasonable travel expenses. This year’s recipients were Frank       law topics, with speakers and participants from across the state.
Elder and Sean Jackson, regional attorneys for Advocacy, Inc.;      For more information, please contact Catherine Nahay at Texas
Kevin McCary, staff attorney for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid;         Lawyers Care, cnahay@texasbar.com.

                                              LEGALFRONT            WINTER 2008
                               STATE BAR OF TEXAS                                                                         NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION
                                                                                                                                   U.S. POSTAGE
                               Texas Lawyers Care
                               P. O. Box 12487                                                                                   PERMIT NO. 1804
                               Austin TX 78711-2487                                                                               AUSTIN, TEXAS

                                               2008 Calendar
                                               For more information about events, call Texas Lawyers Care at 800-204-2222,
                                               ext. 1855 or e-mail tlcmail@texasbar.com.

                                               February 8                                                    April 15-17
     The Newsletter of                         Deadline to submit applications for Texas                     ABA Day
                                               Trial Academy                                                 Washington, D.C.
    Texas Lawyers Care
                                               February 11                                                   April 23-25
     Don Jones     Editor-in-Chief             Student Loan Repayment Assistance                             Poverty Law Conference
    Elma Garcia    Managing Editor
                                               Program application and information                           Austin, Texas
                                               available on-line
    Patsy Mallia   Graphic Designer
                                                                                                             May 7-9
                                               February 27                                                   ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference
                                               Deadline to submit nominations for State                      Minneapolis, MN
   News, comments, photographs,
                                               Bar Pro Bono/Legal Services Awards
letters and suggestions are welcome.                                                                         May 16
                                               March 7                                                       Deadline to submit nomination forms for
    Texas Lawyers Care                         Deadline to submit nominations for                            ATJ Law School Commitment to Service
                                               Pro Bono Section Award                                        and ATJ Law Student Pro Bono Awards
        P. O. Box 12487
     Austin, TX 78711-2487                     March 14                                                      May 18-22
                                               Deadline to apply for Student Loan                            Texas Trial Academy
         (512) 427-1855                        Repayment Assistance Program                                  Austin, Texas
    (800) 204-2222, Ext. 1855
       Fax (512) 477-8302                      The articles in this publication reflect the viewpoints of the authors and do not necessarily express the opinion of
   E-mail: tlcmail@texasbar.com                the State Bar of Texas, its Sections, Committees, or Departments.

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